While most modern data storage efforts (such as Google’s Nearline and Coldline) are focused on the cloud, IBM Research and Sony recently announced a major breakthrough in one of the field’s oldest technologies: sputtered magnetic tape.

Using a cartridge prototype that can fit in the palm of a hand, IBM can now store up to 330 terabytes—more than 330 million books worth—of uncompressed data. According to Techspot, that’s six times the size of the world’s largest hard drive.

At 201 gigabits of data per square inch, this is the highest areal recording density ever achieved and about 20 times the density of mainstream commercial tape drives. This new capacity surpasses IBM’s existing world record set in 2015 of 123 gigabits per square inch. To store 330TB, IBM’s newest cartridge holds more than 1 kilometer of tape.

 

According to a Sony press release, the high performance tape was developed “by bringing together Sony’s new magnetic tape technology employing lubricant with IBM Research – Zurich’s newly developed write/read heads, advanced servo control technologies, and innovative signal-processing algorithms.”

Magnetic tape is a strong means of storage thanks to its ability to hold high volumes of data over long periods of time, low consumption of computing power, and low cost per terabyte.

Techspot reports the milestone—IBM’s fifth storage density record since 2006—has cemented the tech firm’s plans to scale up tape storage research and development for the next decade as it seeks solutions to one the greatest big data challenges.

Photo Credit: IBM Research

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Posted by Andrew Foerch