Storage

IBM breaks tape storage world record with 330 TB of uncompressed data on palm-sized cartridge

IBM's new record in storage fits 201 gigabits per square inch on magnetic tape, marking the firm's fifth world record since 2006.

Imagine being able to fit the text of 330 million books in the palm of your hand. With IBM's new magnetic tape storage prototype, that is now possible.

On Wednesday, IBM researchers unveiled a new tape storage solution that holds 330 TB of uncompressed data (roughly equivalent to the text of 330 million books) on a palm-sized cartridge. IBM announced the achievement via a press release after presenting it at the 28th Magnetic Recording Conference in Tsukuba, Japan

Tape is known as a fairly standard backup solution in enterprise storage, and is also used for disaster recovery and other implementations, IBM fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou said in the release. However, Eleftheriou noted, it's evolving to be used more in the cloud as well.

SEE: Tape storage: The smart person's guide

"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," Eleftheriou said in the release.

IBM used sputtered magnetic tape to build its prototype, which was developed by Sony Storage Media Solutions. The pair have worked together many times in the past to develop new technologies for tape storage.

In terms of areal density, the team was able to achieve 201 gigabits per square inch—20 times the areal density of some of the top solutions currently on the market, according to the press release. The areal density is also 165,000,000 times that of IBM's first magnetic tape solution, released around 60 years ago.

To achieve the world record with this prototype, IBM used special signal-processing algorithms for the data channel that enabled operation at a very specific linear density, the release said. IBM also utilized advanced servo control technologies to provide extremely accurate head positions, and a new low-friction tape head as well.

Despite its storied history, tape storage isn't going anywhere anytime soon. While new solutions have provided some interesting alternatives, IBM's announcement proves that tape storage will continue to live on for some time.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. IBM's new magnetic tape prototype holds 330 TB of uncompressed data on a palm-sized cartridge, breaking the world record for this storage type.
  2. The prototype uses sputtered magnetic tape and was developed with help from Sony Storage Media Solutions and new innovations in tape technology.
  3. The new solution has an areal density of 201 gigabits per square inch, which is 165,000,000 times that of IBM's first magnetic tape solution.

Also see

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Image: IBM

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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