IBM Research has set a new world record in tape storage -  201Gb/sq inch of data on a prototype sputtered magnetic tape developed by Sony Storage Media Solutions. 

On a standard palm-sized tape cartridge, the method would allow for about 330TB of uncompressed data.

More storage, same space

Dr Mark Lantz, IBM Research
Dr Mark Lantz, IBM Research – IBM

“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,” IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou said.

“While sputtered tape is expected to cost a little more to manufacture than current commercial tape that uses Barium ferrite (BaFe), the potential for very high capacity will make the cost per TB very attractive, making this technology practical for cold storage in the cloud.”

The company said that it achieved the improvement through several technological advances, including:

  • New signal-processing algorithms for the data channel, based on noise-predictive detection principles
  • Servo control technologies that allow for head positioning with an accuracy of better than 7 nanometers
  • A low friction tape head technology that permits the use of ‘very smooth’ tape media.

Magnetic tape storage has had a resurgence as of late, and is finding a use in modern colocation, cloud and enterprise data centers. In the next issue of DCD Magazine, we take a look at “Why tape is still strong” - subscribers should look for it in their physical mailbox or digital inbox soon.