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IBM Takes Tape Storage to Whole New Level


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IBM Research scientists have achieved a new world record in tape storage – their fifth since 2006. The new record of 201 Gb/in2 (gigabits per square inch) in areal density was achieved on a prototype sputtered magnetic tape developed by Sony Storage Media Solutions. The scientists presented the achievement at the 28th Magnetic Recording Conference (TMRC 2017) in Japan.

Tape storage is currently the most secure, energy-efficient and cost-effective solution for storing enormous amounts of backup and archival data, as well as for new applications such as big data and cloud computing.

This new record areal recording density is more than 20 times the areal density used in current state of the art commercial tape drives such as the IBM TS1155 enterprise tape drive, and it enables the potential to record up to about 330 terabytes (TB) of uncompressed data on a single tape cartridge that would fit in the palm of your hand. It is estimated that 330 terabytes of data are comparable to the text of 330 million books.

“Tape has traditionally been used for video archives, back-up files, replicas for disaster recovery and retention of information on premise, but the industry is also expanding to off-premise applications in the cloud,” said IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou. “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.”

The solution employs signal-processing algorithms for the data channel, based on noise-predictive detection principles, which enable reliable operation at a linear density of 818,000 bits per inch with an ultra-narrow 48nm wide tunneling magneto-resistive (TMR) reader. A set of advanced servo control technologies that when combined enable head positioning with an accuracy of better than 7 nanometers. This combined with a 48nm-wide (TMR) hard disk drive read head enables a track density of 246,200 tracks per inch, a 13-fold increase over a state of the art TS1155 drive.

More details are available at: http://www.research.ibm.com/labs/zurich/sto/tape/arealdensity.html


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