IBM sets new world record tape storage benchmark

IBM Sputtered Magnetic Tape

Image Dr. Mark Lantz holding one square inch of sputtered tape having an aerial density of 201 gigabytes. Credit IBM Research

That works out to a whopping 330TB of uncompressed data on a single tape drive cartridge.

The new cartridge is a far cry from the original magnetic tape drives introduced over 50 years ago which typically used reels of half-inch wide tape and which could typically store about 2 MB of data per square inch. IBM just announced a new record in data storage density - 201 gigabits per square inch on a magnetic tape (that's one square inch of it above).

The trick here is that IBM and Sony are using sputtered media made up of several layers of nano particles to extend tape length. Having a tape jam on your cassette player can result in a few seconds of garbled music, but when you're storing data a mechanical mishap like that can be catastrophic. The inception of tape drives dates back to nearly 6-decades back and was initially used in government institutions of taxation and health care for storing public data in large amounts. However, a tape can be flexed, bend and wound around, which can be converted to a thin layer of iron oxide or chromium parties which are magnetized or demagnetized by a machine, which can create individual pieces of data.

That said, existing hardware will not be compatible with this new technology, and the technology is only available in research and development labs of IBM and Sony, and it will likely take a few years before it is commercially available. This is over 20 times more data density than is offered by any current commercial data storage tape. The only catch is that it uses a storage technique that you probably thought was long dead: magnetic tape.

Interestingly, IBM has also said that this achievement is also reflective of the viability of scaling up storage on tapes continuously for another decade. The high capacity storage can also bring down the per terabyte cost, making sputtered tapes a viable option. READ NEXT:Major tech companies see DNA storage as the future Tape has previously been used as a long-term backup solution for disaster recovery of server farms. The technology introduced in Japan increases the storage capacity by 165 million times.

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