IBM put the equivalent of 330 million books on this tiny cartridge

Eloi Lecerf
Agosto 2, 2017

Sony and IBM Research have developed a magnetic tape storage technology with the highest capacity of recording in areal density at 201GB data per square inch which is nearly 20 times more data than conventional tapes which store 9.6GB data per square inch. The record of 201 gigabits per square inch on prototype sputtered magnetic tape is more than 20 times the areal density now used in commercial tape drives. "While sputtered tape is expected to cost a little more to manufacture than current commercial tape, the potential for very high capacity will make the cost per terabyte very attractive, making this technology practical for cold storage in the cloud". Areal recording density is the amount of information that can be stored on a given area of surface.

In comparison, the first ever tape unit by IBM had used half inch wide tapes that could store 2 megabytes of data and now the new technology can potentially have the capacity of storing 201 billion bits per square inch on magnetic tape.

The new development manifests the potential of doubling tape storage capacity nearly every two years and assuring that tape won't go out fashion for the decade, according to Dr. Mark Lantz of IBM Research.

"Tape has traditionally been used for video archives, back-up files, replicas for disaster recovery and retention of information on premise, but the industry is also expanding to off-premise applications in the cloud", said IBM fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou in a statement. Sony developed a low-friction lubricant technology for high-capacity writing and high-speed reading.

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Despite the breakthrough, Eleftheriou says storage on magnetic tapes will continue to "scale up" for another ten years.

IBM and Sony have been working on increasing areal recording densities for many years.

IBM is using sputter magnetic tape in this technology, which Eleftheriou says can cost a more to manufacture than the now available commercial tape drives.

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