updated 04:55 pm EST, Fri January 22, 2010
IBM, FujiFilm develop ultra-dense magnetic tape
IBM on Friday said it has achieved a record in areal data density on linear magnetic tape. The hardware giant has recorded data onto a dual-coat barium ferrite prototype magnetic tape at a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch, or 39 times denser than current magnetic tapes. New technologies have been developed to achieve this over three years, along with the help of FujiFilm.
While magnetic tape is one of the oldest data storage technologies, dating back some 60 years, it is also the least expensive. On a per-gigabyte basis, digital tape backup is between a fifth and a tenth of the price of hard drive storage. At the same time, tape storage is the most energy efficient. One cartridge of the new tape could hold up to 35TB of uncompressed data.
The gains were achieved by improving the precision of controlling the position of the read-write heads, or 25 times more tracks that can now fit onto the 0.5-inch wide tape. At the same time, new advanced detection methods improve the accuracy of reading the smaller bits, with linear recording density bumped by 50 percent. Finally, a new, low-friction read-write head was developed by IBM Research.
IBM has not announced when it will begin shipping its new data tape.