IBM and Fujifilm's new magnetic tape can store 580TB of data on a single cartridge

Humza

Posts: 779   +161
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Why it matters: Magnetic tapes continue to be a formidable storage solution for data archival and backup, enabling organizations and large-scale businesses to hold onto vast amounts of data for decades. It's why this antiquated technology is still of interest to companies like IBM and Fujifilm, who've jointly developed a new type of magnetic tape that allows for an areal density of 317 gigabits per square inch. The result is a single cartridge that can hold 580TB of data on 1,255 meters of tape.

Combine the importance of preserving huge amounts of critical data with an exponential growth rate, and it becomes understandable why a storage technology as old as the magnetic tape is still seeing advancements today. The medium's latest breakthrough comes from a partnership between IBM and Fujifilm for work on a Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) prototype tape that's said to deliver a ~27x increase in areal density and ~50x increase in capacity over existing LTO-8 tapes.

Alongside the new high-density material developed by Fujifilm, the tape also uses IBM's servo and signal processing technology and uses a low-friction head that can read/write on a much narrower track (56.2nm wide compared to 103nm in a demo three years ago) with a record-setting accuracy of 3.2 nanometers.

IBM notes that this new milestone will enable tape drives to handle the massive growth of digital data, which is expected to hit 175 zettabytes globally by 2025 (1 ZB = 1 trillion GBs). Denser tape drives are also likely to find increased application in 'hyperscale' data centers, over 500 of which currently store about 547 exabytes of actual data.

"Hybrid clouds will rely on magnetic tape for decades to come," says IBM Researcher Dr. Mark Lantz, estimating that over 345,000 exabytes of data currently resides in tape storage systems that continue to excel in providing scalable, cost-effective, and secure ways for data archival.

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TheBigT42

Posts: 488   +393
My train of thought for using tapes in addition to hard drives.
Backed up data on tapes sitting in a safe can't be encrypted.

EDIT: Can't be encrypted by hackers
 
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Avro Arrow

Posts: 638   +733
TechSpot Elite
Wow, I have to admit that this is extremely impressive. I remember tape backups from back in the day (late 80s-early 90s) when a lot of BBSes used them because the cost per meg of storage was so low compared to hard drives that even running an MFM drive with an RLL controller (which effectively doubled the storage of the MFM drive) was considerably more expensive per meg than a tape backup.

Of course, back then, computers were so slow that the seek time on a tape backup wasn't a serious hindrance to its use in real-time. There was a slight delay but with a dial-up connection speed of 2400bps, it didn't really impact transfer speeds. These days, tapes would be useful only for archiving but hey, if it works, it works, eh? :D
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,797   +6,452
Wow, I have to admit that this is extremely impressive. I remember tape backups from back in the day (late 80s-early 90s) when a lot of BBSes used them because the cost per meg of storage was so low compared to hard drives that even running an MFM drive with an RLL controller (which effectively doubled the storage of the MFM drive) was considerably more expensive per meg than a tape backup.

Of course, back then, computers were so slow that the seek time on a tape backup wasn't a serious hindrance to its use in real-time. There was a slight delay but with a dial-up connection speed of 2400bps, it didn't really impact transfer speeds. These days, tapes would be useful only for archiving but hey, if it works, it works, eh? :D
I can go back as far as the old IBM System 36 and 38 where the back up tapes were in a tall cabinet only able to handle one at a time, then the first disk pack came out with platters close to 36" wide with 4 stacked in a pack ..... very volatile ..... I saw a girl in a in a sweater pick up one, heard the static crack and found out she had just erased the entire payroll for the company ....... never heard if she made it to the end of the day .....
 

terzaerian

Posts: 269   +317
I wish more companies (and people) thought about the long term re: their data. HDD, SDD and the cloud are all rather unreliable in the long term.
 
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NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 225   +248
I wonder what the read/write speed for tape is these days. To the internet!
My thoughts, exactly. While 300+ Gb/sq inch is impressive enough, I’d be curious to know the data transfer (read/write) speeds for the hardware/tape combo. While technology has no doubt advanced considerably over the last 3 decades, I still recall taking half-a-day to write 1.3 compressed Gb to a DC30XX cartridge with compression/verification using my CMS Jumbo drive on a 486 in the early 90’s.
 

ddferrari

Posts: 484   +236
TechSpot Elite
Well if anyone remembers VHS tapes, they basically get erased by the Earth's magnetic field after ~20 years. That's one reason people rushed to transfer their precious wedding tapes, etc. to DVD when it came out.

I can only assume that these tapes were developed with this in mind...
 

Aryassen

Posts: 135   +168
Well if anyone remembers VHS tapes, they basically get erased by the Earth's magnetic field after ~20 years. That's one reason people rushed to transfer their precious wedding tapes, etc. to DVD when it came out.

I can only assume that these tapes were developed with this in mind...
Based on limited personal experience, this is an urban myth, just like written CDs will last no longer than 5-10 years. If the VHS tape is not abused, it works after 2 decades without any problems. At least my mum doesn't store them in a steel safe (they are sitting on the shelf above the TV), and yet the tapes still work just fine (along with the VHS player, which is actually more amazing to me).
 
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duckofdeath

Posts: 128   +160
Well if anyone remembers VHS tapes, they basically get erased by the Earth's magnetic field after ~20 years. That's one reason people rushed to transfer their precious wedding tapes, etc. to DVD when it came out.

I can only assume that these tapes were developed with this in mind...
LTO tapes are usually certified to last 30 years. Stored correctly, obviously. Good luck finding a computer with a CD player in 30 years :)

That said, long term data storage has always been a big issue. Technology evolves so fast that we can't keep spare hardware for every medium invented.30 years ago, we used 3.5 inch floppies and even cassette tapes. I still have an old IBM in an attic box somewhere with a 5.25 inch floppy drive and also a C-64. So I'm obviously future proofed. 😅
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 638   +733
TechSpot Elite
I can go back as far as the old IBM System 36 and 38 where the back up tapes were in a tall cabinet only able to handle one at a time, then the first disk pack came out with platters close to 36" wide with 4 stacked in a pack ..... very volatile ..... I saw a girl in a in a sweater pick up one, heard the static crack and found out she had just erased the entire payroll for the company ....... never heard if she made it to the end of the day .....
Yeah, it's pretty amazing how far we've come in such a relatively short time (Intel sandbagging us for the first decade of the millennium notwithstanding). I remember in the late 90s, the largest hard drive in the consumer market was a whopping 1.06GB. I remember thinking to myself "Holy Sheep Dip, that's ENORMOUS!". Seven years later, I had the same amount of space on my video card, a Palit GeForce 8500 GT 1GB. Now, to be fair, there's no way in hell that a GeForce 8500 GT could possibly use the entire 1GB but it was the same price as the EVGA 512MB version so I thought "It's probably overkill but I'm not paying more for it so, why not?".

As for that poor girl, if they fired her, that's pretty unfair. Back then, hardly anyone knew anything about computers. The network administrator should have never let her get near volatile magnetic media like that while wearing a sweater. Hell, I wouldn't have allowed anyone in a sweater in the entire department.

If anyone should have been reprimanded, it should have been the person who allowed her near that stuff without her wearing a proper anti-static grounding device. If it had been me, I would have had an inflexible dress code of "soft cotton clothing only" and everyone entering that department would have been required to wear an anti-static grounding device. I'd say that having her in that room with a sweater on and no anti-static device would be about as intelligent as telling her to take her smoke breaks in a room full of propane cylinders.

Disaster was just waiting to happen. :scream:
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
The...back up tapes were in a tall cabinet ..... very volatile ..... I saw a girl in a in a sweater pick up one, heard the static crack and found out she had just erased the entire payroll for the company ...
Sounds like an urban myth, or a conflating of separate events. Electrostatic discharge won't erase a magnetic tape, but it can damage electronics, particularly CMOS circuits.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 638   +733
TechSpot Elite
Looking closer at the specs, I'm forced to wonder how big the tape cartridges themselves will be. I mean, the tape in each cartridge will be 1.25km long. That's pretty damn LONGGGGGG! :D
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,429   +571
Looking closer at the specs, I'm forced to wonder how big the tape cartridges themselves will be. I mean, the tape in each cartridge will be 1.25km long. That's pretty damn LONGGGGGG! :D
I imagine it would have more density. I vaguely recall a story not too long ago talking about some breakthrough in this realm.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
Looking closer at the specs, I'm forced to wonder how big the tape cartridges themselves will be. I mean, the tape in each cartridge will be 1.25km long.
Long, but only 4.3 um thick. Assuming a spool diameter of 16cm, that's a wind thickness of only one cm.