IBM and Fujifilm show super dense storage tape for Big Data work

With IBM and Fujifilm technology, tomorrow's LTO tape cartridges could store up to 154TB of data each

IBM researchers test their new tape prototype.

IBM researchers test their new tape prototype.

Anticipating a storage crunch spurred by Big Data, IBM and Fujifilm are advancing the state of art in magnetic tape with a prototype capable of storing 85.9 billion bits of data per square inch.

In an industry standard LTO size cartridge, tape like that could store up to 154 terabytes of uncompressed data. Today's LTO version 6 cartridge holds 2.5 terabytes. A terabyte is a trillion bytes, or about 1,000GB.

The companies announced the new prototype at the IBM Edge conference, being held this week in Las Vegas.

Far from being rendered obsolete by hard drives and solid state storage, tape as a storage technology may have a bright future ahead. Tape is still cheaper and more energy-efficient than other modes of storage, making it a natural medium for keeping big data for the long term, IBM argues. It's predicted that by 2020, we will have collectively produced as much as 40 zettabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes, of data. Back-up files, video and audio archives, extra copies of data for disaster recovery and regulatory purposes all must be kept even if it is rarely used.

The researchers have developed a number of new techniques for squeezing more data onto the tape.

Fujifilm developed a way to grind the barium ferrite (BaFe) particles used to make the magnetic tape much more finely, without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods.

IBM refined the control of the tape head servo, so it can be positioned over the tape with nano-scale accuracy, allowing for finer tracks of data to be written and read. The tape head produces significantly stronger magnetic fields, setting the stage for reading and writing data on a smaller tape surface.

Finally, the team developed a set of signal-processing algorithms that would enable tape machines to capture data with greater fidelity, allowing a 90 nanometer giant magneto-resistive (GMR) read head to be used.

The companies have been working together on pushing the state of the art in tape for the past 10 years. In 2010, the two companies jointly announced that they had packed 29.5 billion bits of data within a square inch of tape.

IBM gave no timeframe for when this technology could be commercialized: it will require additional engineering to fit into commercially viable form factors. The company does maintain a presence in the tape drive market, with its IBM 3592 line of tape drives and related cartridges. As it often does with its research, IBM may license the technology to other storage providers.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags popular scienceIBMstoragetape storageFujitsu

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?