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World Record in Tape Storage Achieved

IBM has taken the next step in magnetic tape storage. Cycle back briefly to 1950s and a magnetic storage unit would be the size of a refrigerator and store only 2MB of data. Then along came floppy disks, CDs and flash drives. As storage progressed, the size of the device changed and so did the capacity abilities. Now we have the cloud, where consumers don’t even need to physically interact with the storage.

Despite the change, tape is still around. And now IBM have released a tape cartridge that is capable of storing 330TB of uncompressed data, in partnership with Sony Storage Media Solutions. This marks a new world record for tape storage and it’s the fifth time that IBM have claimed the title.

Enterprise data needs continue to grow. There’s been a huge boom in the amount of data that devices and systems are outputting and some are struggling to find reliable and cost-effective solutions to keep it all. But not only is the quantity of data increasing, businesses are now finding more value in their existing data too. While in the past it may have been discarded, now data is mined for value.

The new 330TB tape can store 20 times as much as the existing commercial units half its size. It can hold 330 million books and stores 2012 gigabits of data per square inch. It achieves this through a method called sputter disposition. This adds layers, which increases the density of the material, and is helped through the new type of tape that Sony created.

One of the things about tape is that it needs a smooth read and write process, along with fool-proof signal processing. The new cartridge from IBM has a lubricant throughout, reducing the friction and air resistance that often causes problems with tape playback. The research team at IBM have created a new 48nm-wide magneto-resistive head, which smoothly guides the tape through and uses a signal processing algorithm to read and write data.

You might be wondering why IBM are bothering to create new tape solutions when so many other modern technologies have come since. Tape is still popular. Originally it had value for on-site archiving, especially for business continuity purposes, and it now finds purpose in off-site storage for the cloud.

Tape is still secure, efficient and affordable. While IBM’s new 330TB costs more production-wise than existing commercial tapes, the fact that it boasts such a high amount of storage will certainly be a draw for businesses looking to invest into cold cloud storage.

There’s no release date for this new cartridge just yet, but it’s exciting stuff, not least because it’ll be an affordable way to gain huge amounts of storage space on a reliable device. It’s an advancement in tape technology that will be sure to help others in the future – EnterpriseTech reckon that we’ll storage capacity doubled every two years for the next decade. Tape, then, continues to live on, provide innovation and solves a solid business need.


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