IBM is working on putting 220 terabytes of storage in a palm-sized tape cartridge. The company has developed breakthrough technology that shrinks the size of bits for magnetic tape and offers ability to store 123 billion bits of uncompressed data on a square inch of magnetic tape.
“Many people are surprised that there is still a vibrant tape industry,” said Mark Lantz, manager for exploratory tape at IBM Research. “This new technology will enable future products. The aerial density in disks is slowing down and tape is becoming more attractive.”
Lantz said IBM has developed key technologies that will be used in future tape product. IBM spent about 13 years in collaboration with Fujifilm to develop an enhanced write field head technology that uses finer barium ferrite particles for higher density. The new particulate Nanocubic BaFe magnetic tape decreases the particle volume that is necessary for high-density recording.
Other innovations that will be used ub new tape products include signal-processing algorithms for the data channel based on noise-predictive detection principles, a high bandwidth head actuator, and advanced servo control that allows head positioning by less than 5.9 nanometers.This allows a track density of 181,300 tracks per inch. That is more than a 40 percent increase over an industry standard LTO-6 tape cartridge, which can hold 2.5 TB of uncompressed data on a four-by-four inch cartridge.
“The new write head technology produces stronger magnetic fields and allow us to take advantage of the new barium ferrite,” Lantz said. “With the new signal processing algorithms means we can work with much noisy signals and still achieve a high reliability of tape systems.”
The 220 TB of data can store roughly 1.37 trillion mobile test messages. IBM demonstrated a Fujifilm prototype at the National Association Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas this week.
“People who say tape is dying are typically people who do not have tape in their storage portfolio,” Lantz said. “The technology is not dying. In fact, use cases are growing, particularly in low-cost archiving storage tiers.