Earlier this week, MIT’s Technology Review published a story on a new magnetic tape material which, combined with a novel tape-reading technology, can produce data storage capacities of 35 Tb per cartridge – over 40 times higher than current tape storage systems.
The research was conducted at IBM’S Zurich Research Labs in Switzerland, in conjunction with Fujifilm. What’s interesting is that just as hard disk drive media has gone from longitudinal recording, where the data bits are stored lengthwise, to perpendicular, where the bits are stored perpendicular to the surface – the same concept has been applied here to magnetic tape. The result in both cases is a significant increase in areal density of storage. Thinner tape can also be used with this technique, which means more tape can be stored on a spool. the particles used are made from barium ferrite – more commonly seen in everyday ceramic ferrite magnets.
However, the new tape technology created a problem:
Increasing the density of data that can be stored on a tape makes it more difficult to reliably read information. This is already a problem because of electromagnetic interference and because the heads themselves will retain a certain amount of residual magnetism from readings. To overcome this, the IBM group developed new signal processing algorithms that simultaneously process data and predict the effect that electromagnetic noise will have on subsequent readings.
Since tape backups are still a mainstay of any self-respecting IT department these days, this new development will hopefully make their lives easier. And let’s face it – if your IT department is happy – YOU’RE happy, and vice-versa, if you know what I mean….
The folks at IBM say that it might be as long as five years before the tape material is ready for prime time, but even so, this new development may well extend the lifespan of this data storage technology for many years to come.