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Last Updated : Aug 03, 2017 03:21 PM IST | Source:

Sony and IBM scientists pack 330 TB data in palm-sized magnetic tape cartridge

Will hard drives fade away like CDs and floppy disks did?

Researchers have developed a new magnetic tape which can store 201 GB of data per square inch. The tapes can be put into a system where, theoretically, it can store up to 330 TB of data in a palm-sized cartridge.

Comparing the breakthrough with currently available technology, the largest commercially available hard drives — 60 TB Seagate Solid State Drives (SDD) or 12 TB HGST helium filled HDD — are twice the size of the cartridge developed and pack a lot less data, as per a report by Ars Technica.

The dramatic increase in the capacity, by Sony and IBM's Research team, was achieved through the use of different technologies of coating the magnetic tapes.

Watch | IBM Achieves the World’s Highest Areal Recording Density for Magnetic Tape Storage

Usually, the tapes are coated with the magnetic layer in liquid form, very much like paint but the developer at Sony used a technology called sputter deposition. In simple words, this involves ejection of magnetic particles of the size of few nano metres onto a substrate, in this case, the tape. The process is done in a vacuum chamber.

The real difference between both the processes is the size of magnetic particles which is tens or hundreds of nanometres across in liquid coating unlike few nanometres in sputter deposition. This level of condensation allows the tape to pack more data in lesser space.

However, the new process is significantly costlier than the cheap method of liquid magnetic coating. Hence, when this cartridge hits the market, which is still is a few years away, it will be priced higher than the traditional hard drives.


The cartridges would be affordable as a long term solution for organisations who produce a large quantity of data and want to store them in a significantly lesser space.

Sony also developed a new method of lubricating the tapes which would make it faster to read and write data. The new lubrication technique will ensure that the wear and tear of the tape are as less as possible. The speed of accessing the stored data is critical. This is the reason SSDs are preferred over HDDs as it is faster to access data on them.

(All Images: IBM Research)
First Published on Aug 3, 2017 12:34 pm
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