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IBM achieves world record in magnetic tape storage density

Posted: 10 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IBM Research? magnetic tape? FujiFilm? tape drive? Moore's Law?

IBM Research has claimed to have set a world record in storage density on magnetic tape with 123 billion bits of uncompressed data per square inch on low cost, particulate magnetic tape made especially for the project by FujiFilm. This headway will enable 6GB cartridges to boost their capacity to 220TB when the technology is brought to market.

"This ensures that we can continue scaling, doubling capacity every two years, for at least the next 10 years. Also, because of the explosion in the rate at which data is being created, there is a huge demand for cost-effective storage solutions both on premises and in the cloud. And because tape has the lowest total cost of ownership, that's creating all kinds of new applications for tape," said Mark Lantz, manager of exploratory tape, IBM Research.

At just 2-to-3 pennies per GB, even Google is on board with a vast installation of IBM tape drives, adding to the 500 exabytes of data stored on tape worldwide, mostly for seldom needed data such as archived files and backup. Also the major film studios are converting to data tape drives, because they preserve the exact digital representation of a movie, plus can fit many more movies onto data tapes than traditional video tapes.

Mark Lantz

Mark Lantz, manager of exploratory tape at IBM Research adjusts its latest prototype. (Source: IBM)

The only downside is that it takes five to seven years for lab demonstrations of tape capacity to make their way to commercial products, unlike three to five years for other memory storage technologies. Nevertheless, the demonstration shows that tape is not running out of gas, still increasing with Moore's Law, unlike DRAM, SRAM, flash and the optical storage technologies such as PCM.

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