Magnetic tape has been the data storage medium for data centers for more than 60 years. Its longevity, density, energy efficiency, low cost, scalability, and durability have made it hard to beat over the past years. IBM and Fujifilm have collaborated to make it even better.
According to the IBM press release, “Currently we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data on a daily basis, mainly due to the continuous rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the emergence of high-definition 4K/8K videos and AI-based big-data analyses. At the rate we’re going, worldwide data is expected to hit 175 zettabytes by 2025, representing 61 percent annual growth. One ZB is equivalent to a trillion gigabytes (GB) – the latest cellphones have 256 GB.”
The new magnetic tape introduced by IBM and Fujifilm has the capacity to store 580TB (terabytes) of data in a single tape cartridge.
IBM writes that “In terms of storage potential, a single tape cartridge with this new areal density has the potential to store about 580 terabytes (TB) of data. Just to put that in perspective, 580 TB is equivalent to 786,977 CDs stacked 944 meters high, which is taller than Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building. That’s a colossal amount of data! All fitting on a tape cartridge on the palm of your hand.”
Currently, for making magnetic tape storage media the particles of barium ferrite(BaFe) are used to coat it, but Fujifilm has developed Strontium Ferrite(SrFe) which can be made into smaller particles with superior properties. In that way, we can achieve higher density storage on the same amount of tape.
Mark Lantz, the researcher of IBM technologies wrote that “Just let me geek out for a second: When tape is being read, it is streamed over the head at a speed of about 15 km/h and with our new servo technologies, we are still able to position the tape head with an accuracy that is about 1.5 times the width of a of DNA molecule.”
According to IBM there are more than 345,000 EB of data currently reside in tape storage systems and with their advancements in this technology, they demonstrate the viability of scaling the tape roadmap for another decade.