Think tape drives, think 1970’s mainframe machines the height of an adult? Well, tape drive technology is still very much in development and looks very different today!
In fact, scientists at IBM have achieved a world record by cramming 330 terabytes of uncompressed data into a cartridge that can fit into the palm of your hand.
That’s a recording density of 201 gigabits per square inch, which is more than 20x greater than current commercial tape drives.
This feat has been achieved through new technology – a prototype sputtered magnetic tape.
Even in the last 10 years, as the table below shows, the progress in tape drive capacity is exponential.
Read/ write speeds are no way near that of HDD and SSD. So, while we are unlikely to see this new tape drive technology available commercially, it’s highly likely that this could become the choice tech used for cloud storage.
IBM Tape Drive : Past, Present and Future
IBM’s first tape unit, introduced more than 60 years ago, used reels of half-inch-wide tape that could only hold about 2 megabytes. They were initially used for archiving documents, like tax and health care records.
60 years on and the media is looks totally different.
The new sputtered magnetic tape is the result of a close working relationship between IBM and Sony Storage Media Solutions and the development of several new technologies.
It’s viable to continue scaling up storage on tapes for another decade, IBM said.
“Tape has traditionally been used for video archives, back-up files, replicas for disaster recovery and retention of information on premise, but the industry is also expanding to off-premise applications in the cloud,” said IBM fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou in a statement.
Sputtered tape costs more to manufacture than current commercial tape, but the cost per terabyte is likely to be very competitive.
Tape drives, coming to a cloud near you.