IBM breaks record by storing 330TB of uncompressed data onto palm-sized cartridge


Posts: 6,681   +59
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Tape storage drives may have been around for 60 years, but they’re still breaking records. Working alongside the Sony Corporation, IBM Research has been able to store 330 terabytes of uncompressed data onto a prototype cartridge small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. That's six times more storage than the world's largest hard drive.

This is the fifth time since 2006 that IBM Research scientists have set a world record in tape storage. Called sputtered magnetic tape, it’s able to store 201 gigabits per square inch. That’s more than 20 times the areal density of current commercial tape drives. Areal recording density refers to the amount of information that can be stored in a given area of surface.

The milestone was announced by both companies at the 28th Magnetic Recording Conference in Japan today. The record is unlikely to stand for very long, as IBM says "storage on tapes will continue to scale up for another decade."

The sputtered tape was developed using low friction tape head tech, advanced servo control technologies, and new signal-processing algorithms, which are based on noise-predictive detection principles. Sony developed a low-friction lubricant technology for high-capacity writing and high-speed reading.

IBM and Sony have been working on increasing areal recording densities for many years. “The results of this collaboration have led to various improvements in the media technology, such as advanced roll-to-roll technology for long sputtered tape fabrication and better lubricant technology, which stabilizes the functionality of the magnetic tape,” said IBM fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou.

While the manufacture of sputtered tape can cost more than current commercial tape drives, Eleftheriou says its high capacity makes the price per terabyte very “attractive.”

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Posts: 8,645   +3,289
330 TB uncompressed on a kilometre of very thin tape is pretty impressive. When I started out in IT you could probably only get about 50MB on a similar length and that was considered eye bulging for the time.


Posts: 259   +323
My first summer job in 1978 @NBS was to fetch magnetic tapes by their "call ID" and load them onto one of 30 vaccum-assisted drives that fed 2 parallel UNIVAC 1108's. The tape vault was a massive room protected by HALON sprinklers for fire protection. In 1980 we bought the first removable HDD that was the size of a top-loading washing machine. We've come a long way....


Posts: 456   +139
That's great and all, but you have to copy off of tape storage what you want to run/read/execute.


Posts: 398   +302
And to think we keep trying to get away from tape, but it keeps coming back...

Not really, its just not something the average person needs. This is something that will be used for things that rarely need accessed, and need stored for a long time, for instance backing up Cop bodycams and surveillance in general. This wouldn't be practical for the average users NAS or other things that need quick access, but for backups this is a godsend. Demand for stuff like this will always exist for huge corporations, for government, for law enforcement, just not for everyone else.


I live in a modest city, my elder brother is in charge of maintaining all the county networks / computers. He was telling me that all the Cops have bodycams, and the data must be stored for a minimum of a month or something like that. It comes out to about 120TB of storage, and more if the data has to be stored longer due to pending cases.


Posts: 35   +20
I wish these drives were cheaper and that this technology was more mainstream.
It is mainstream... just not on the consumer side. Tape Drives are the backbone of the corporate digital world and all of us come into contact with the data they store every day. For example, the financial information on credit reports is sent to the three bureaus on Tape Drives every month by the owning financial institutions.