IT'S BEEN over two years since we had a really good "how much data can we get on a reel of tape" story, so enter IBM.
Yes, the current record holder has smashed its own 220TB cartridge record with… wait for it… a 330TB cartridge.
What this means is that this single cartridge can hold 330 million average sized books. A square inch of tape can hold 201 gigabytes. Ain't no flash that can do that right now.
"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.
"While sputtered tape is expected to cost a little more to manufacture than current commercial tape, the potential for very high capacity will make the cost per terabyte very attractive, making this technology practical for cold storage in the cloud."
The problem with cold storage is that it's cold. No, really. When INQ visited CERN a couple of years ago they told us their tape archive was now down to being accessible within half an hour of request. When you consider how the world has moved on, asking for a 30-minute wait is a big ask.
But for the reams of machine-to-machine data (M2M) that are created every second, this could be a viable solution. Most of the data created by computers for their own use is never looked at again and if it was, it wouldn't mean anything to anyone. So why have it clogging up more expensive £/GB storage options?
IBM and Sony have worked together on squeezing more out of the same tape it has used since the sixties when it held just 2MB an inch.
These days, it's all about better lubrication, and the magic word - sputtering - a technique which involves the way that bits of metal in a film are sprayed on the tape. It's not dissimilar to the techniques used to increase the size of disc platters in data centres, in combination with helium sealing. µ
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