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IBM and Sony developed a tape cartridge able to store 330TB of data in it

Scientists at IBM and Sony have managed to develop a prototype magnetic tape drive that is so small that it fits in the palm of your hand (just 4-inches) and it can store amazing amount of 330TB of uncompressed data in it.

IBM’s Mark Lantz holding one square inch of the new super-dense magnetic tape. Sony can squeeze more than a kilometre of tape inside a cartridge, for a max capacity of 330 terabytes.

IBM Research worked alongside Sony Storage Solutions for many years to achieve increased areal recording densities and develop this magnetic tape with superb storage capacity.

Talking about the tape’s recording density – the prototype comes with an unprecedented 201Gb per inch density.

This new tape is made of “Sputtered Media” instead of Barium Ferrite

“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,” says IBM Research’s team member, Evangelos Eleftheriou in a statement.

“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,” he added.

During the magnetic tape cartridge’s release, Sony said that this achievement was made possible by bringing together it’s “new magnetic tape technology employing lubricant with IBM Research – Zurich’s newly developed write/read heads, advanced servo control technologies and innovative signal-processing algorithm.”

Sony also pointed out that “closing the gap between the magnetic tape and magnetic head is critical to achieving high-density recording capabilities for tape storage media.”

Take a look at IBM Research’s official video:

IBM has also said that this achievement is also reflective of the viability of scaling up storage on tapes continuously for another decade. Which means IBM is clearly working on to improve the density of the tape and fit more data into it!!

Our storage needs have been growing for years with advancement in technology sector and if you didn’t realise this till now, just imaging how an iPhone with just 8GB of storage would feel in this day and age. A decade ago 8 GB in a smartphone was a pretty big deal and now because of high-resolution audio and videos its nothing.

This sort of achievement gives hope that our data requirements will be met with advancement in technology and that we are prepared to tackle the situation going forward with these incredible storage innovations.

These new cartridges, when they will get commercialised, will be significantly more expensive because of the tape’s complex manufacturing process. Likewise, a new tape drive (costing several thousand dollars) would be required.

Still, given the massive increase in per-cartridge capacity, the use of these tapes for storage, backups and even the cold storage will be useful and economical.


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