August 3, 2017

IBM manages to compress 330TB of data into a palm-sized tape

With assistance from Sony, the achievement set a new world record for data stored on a tape cartridge.

Earlier today, IBM declared that it has developed a palm-sized magnetic tape cartridge which packs 330 terabytes of compressed data, in the process setting a new world record for data storage on a tape device. Scientists from the IBM Research division, which is ultimately responsible for the creation, were able to store 201 gigabytes per square inch of data onto a sputtered magnetic tape prototype that was provided by Japanese corporation Sony.

In order for them to achieve the 201 gigabits per square inch, IBM scientists had to develop several new tape storage methods. The scientists worked closely with Sony for several years, predominantly focusing on increased areal recording densities (areal recording density is the amount of information that can be stored on a given area of storage). IBM says its new tape cartridge has more than 20 times the areal recording density currently being used in commercial tape drives.

According to Sony, the tape is also enhanced by painting on several thin layers of barium ferrite liquid metal using a process similar to one used in the production of integrated circuits.

While discussing their ground-breaking creation, IBM Research scientist Evangelos Eleftheriou elaborated:

Tape has traditionally been used for video archives, back-up files, replicas for disaster recovery and retention of information on premise. 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.

The results of our collaboration with Sony have led to various improvements in the media technology, such as advanced roll-to-roll technology for long sputtered tape fabrication and better lubricant technology, which stabilizes the functionality of the magnetic tape.

The record volume of data stored on the tape is the equivalent of approximately 330 million books and paves the way for IBM and other magnetic tape vendors to continue doubling tape capacity every two years. IBM says this sputtered tape technology will ensure customers can continue to rely on cheap tape for the next decade.

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