IBM Research sets new record for tape storage

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IBM scientists have demonstrated an areal recording density of 123 billion bits of uncompressed data per square inch on low cost, particulate magnetic tape, a breakthrough which represents the equivalent of a 220 terabyte tape cartridge that could fit in the palm of your hand.

To put this into perspective, 220 terabytes of data is comparable to 1.37 trillion mobile text messages or the text of 220 million books, which would require a 2,200 km bookshelf spanning from Las Vegas to Houston, Texas.

This new record proves that computer tape – a storage medium invented in 1952 with an initial capacity of about 2 megabytes per reel — continues to be an ideal technology not just for storing enormous amounts of back-up and archival data, but for new applications such as Big Data and cloud computing. The record setting demonstration is an 88 fold improvement over an LTO6 cartridge, the latest industry-standard magnetic tape product, and a 22 fold improvement over IBM’s current enterprise class tape product.

Today more than 500 exabytes of data reside in tape storage systems, according to IT analyst firm Coughlin Associates.

The record was achieved using a new, advanced prototype tape developed by FUJIFILM Corporation of Japan, in collaboration with IBM scientists. This is the fourth time in less than 10 years that IBM Research and FUJIFILM have collaborated to achieve such a feat.

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For more on the history of IBM and magnetic tape storage visit http://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/tapestorage/

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