Fujifilm and IBM Produce 580TB Tape Prototype

Fujifilm and IBM have worked together to produce a new prototype magnetic tape that smashes the recording density world record.

The new prototype tape has a capacity of 580TB, which is more than 32x the current LTO-9 tape technology. Using Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) particles, Fujifilm were able to significantly boost the storage capacity of the tapes, by making them thinner and longer. This allowed them to achieve an areal density of 317Gbpsi (gigabits per square inch), allowing 580TB to be stored on a single tape. IBM have noted that this development will enable tape drives to handle to explosion of digital data, which is expected to reach 175 zetabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) by 2025

Tapes were invented nearly a century ago, and originally used for recording audio. While analysts have been predicting the demise of the tape drive for quite a while, this hasn’t materialised; although tapes are not as commonly used as they once were. The current technology, dating back to 1952, has continued to improve, and remain a cheap way to back up a large amount of data. Hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) have a limited lifespan, particularly if not stored in the optimum conditions. On the other hand, tapes can last decades. Essentially, tapes allow a lot of data to be stored, for a long time, at a low cost.

While this new tape drive from Fujifilm and IBM is just a prototype, they do expect to eventually produce them for commercial use. IBM stated that "There is a standardized roadmap that has to be followed and that will put this on the market in a little less than 10 years. This is the driver of this demonstration — to show enterprises that tape will be viable for decades whereas HDD has hit a wall."

Tape Recovery