IBM is no stranger to setting the world record in tape storage. It just set the tape storage record for the fifth time since 2006. The new record of 201 gigabits per square inch in areal density comes courtesy of the prototype sputtered magnetic tape, developed by Sony Storage Media Solutions.
The areal density of the new world record is more than 20 times the areal density used in most commercial tape drives, like the IBM TS1155 enterprise tape drive.
The prototype sputtered magnetic tape can record up to approximately 330 terabytes on a single tape cartridge, with its size not being much larger than your hand. For reference, 330 terabytes of data are equivalent to 330 million books.
New Technology Originates the World Record
IBM’s recent record is meaningful for the future of data storage and data management. The landmark is yet another indication of magnetic tape data storage’s continuing development. Many companies, like IBM, consider tape storage the best in energy efficiency, security and cost value among storage sources for backup and archival data. Tape storage is also emerging within new applications, including cloud computing and big data.
Although IBM anticipates sputtered tape will cost more to manufacture compared to modern commercial tape, the high storage capacity should make the cost per terabyte very appealing for cloud-based cold storage and beyond.
IBM’s discoveries throughout the record-achieving process result in several exciting areas that will impact data storage and management for the better. IBM’s low-friction tape head technology allows the use of a very smooth tape media, helping to increase areal recording densities. Additionally, IBM employs innovative signal-processing algorithms that are based on noise-predictive detection principles, helping increase the operation’s reliability and speed.
IBM’s advanced servo control technologies also provide a 13-fold increase over the current TS1155 drive. The new technologies combine with a 38-nanometer wide hard disk to enable a track density of 246,200 tracks per inch. Other fruitful results from IBM’s partnership with Sony Storage Media Solutions include improved lubricant technology, helping stabilize magnetic tape functionality, and advanced roll-to-roll technology, allowing for longer sputtered tape fabrication.
What the Record Means for Data Storage
IBM vows that these newly developed technologies will be incorporated into future tape productions, continuing its lengthy innovation in magnetic tape data storage. The record-breaking prototype cartridge, which is the size of your palm, is an indication of what to anticipate: bigger storage, with smaller physical mediums. Regarding the cloud, the trend toward ample storage space with less intensive resources will make the platform increasingly reliable as well.
Presently, data centers and server farms help power the devices we use on a daily basis. The cumulative space of data centers continues to be on the rise — by 2018 it will grow to more than 1.94 billion square feet. Most storage exists in virtualized environments, emphasizing how companies vastly prefer them over on-site solutions. Storage capacity requirements grow at a rate of 15 to 25 percent each year. These recent breakthroughs from IBM can potentially help relieve considerable data costs.
Other top tech companies like Google and Amazon consider the cloud to be the next wave for data management and storage, though IBM’s recent developments have ensured scaling tape technology can continue to be used over the next decade, able to double the capacity every two years.
Sputtered tape technology can help customers use cheap tape for the next decade or so, especially considering their optimism regarding its implementation in cold storage cloud services.
“The potential for very high capacity will make the cost per terabyte very attractive, making this technology practical for cold storage in the cloud,” explains IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou.
IBM’s continuing breakthroughs in tape storage show the niche as still having a strong presence in the data storage and management industries.
For the next decade at least, tape storage will remain relevant in storage and management, with continuing developments and increasing storage.
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