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Saturday, January 23, 2010
Fujifilm and IBM Claim New Record in Magnetic Tape Data Density


Fujifilm and IBM have demonstrated a world record in data density on linear magnetic tape - a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch with magnetic tape media developed using the BaFe particle.

The demonstration points to the possibility of developing a single tape cartridge capable of holding 35 terabytes of uncompressed data ? at least 44 times the amount of data that the current Generation 4 LTO Ultrium data cartridge holds.

"This exciting achievement shows that tape storage is alive and strong and will continue to provide users reliable data protection, while maintaining a cost advantage over other storage technologies, including hard disk drives and flash," said Cindy Grossman, Vice President, IBM Tape and Archive Storage Systems.

In order to further expand the storage capacity of tape media, it has become necessary to increase recording density by using smaller and smaller metal particles. "This process of metal particle micrification becomes challenging because of the risks of losing the high coercivity that is essential for high recording density," said Norio Shibata, President & CEO, Fujifilm Recording Media GmbH "Fujifilm is the first media manufacturer to overcome this challenge of maintaining high coercivity with the development of its micrified BaFe particle, which delivers superior storage with lower noise and higher frequency characteristics than other metal particles."

Employing its advanced NANOCUBIC technology, Fujifilm succeeded in micro-particulation of the BaFe particle to 1600nm, the equivalent of one-third of the current metal particle volume, uniformly dispersed and coated on a super smooth thin magnetic layer. This next generation version of Nanocubic technology uses a new ultra-fine, perpendicularly-oriented barium-ferrite magnetic medium that enables high-density data recording without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods. Because Fujifilm?s new technology orients the particles in a perpendicular fashion and controls disposition at nanometer levels, it has also improved the tape?s running stability. Together with IBM?s new servo format pattern, new signal processing technology, and low-friction head technology, Fujifim?s technology improved areal density dramatically, and achieved a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch.

"We are hopeful about bringing this technology to market and believe it will change the face of tape storage," said Shigeki Kobayashi, Managing Director, Fujifilm Recording Media GmbH "Fujifilm?s BaFe technology will make tape more attractive to IT managers; we believe that tape has the potential to be the next generation storage solution as it meets all the core needs of the market ? reliability, storage density, low cost and hardware compatibility."

Technical details

1. New high-density, dual-coated particulate magnetic tape: Developed by FUJIFILM Corporation in Japan in close collaboration with IBM Research scientists, this next-generation version of its NANOCUBIC tape uses a new ultra-fine, perpendicularly-oriented barium-ferrite magnetic medium that enables high-density data recording without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods.

2. Advanced servo control technologies for ultra accurate head positioning: Three new servo control technologies have been developed by IBM Research - Zurich, leading to a more than 25-fold increase in the number of data tracks that can be squeezed onto the half-inch-wide tape: 1) a new servo pattern, enabling the generation of high-bandwidth nanometer-scale position information; 2) a new method for detecting and decoding the position information encoded in the servo pattern, and 3) advanced state-space-based control concepts that, combined with the other two technologies, culminated in the demonstration of an extremely precise track-follow performance of less than 24 nm standard deviation from the target track position. These technologies were instrumental in reducing the track width to less than 0.45 micrometers.

3. New signal-processing algorithms for the data channel: An advanced data read channel based on a new data-dependent noise-predictive, maximum-likelihood (DD-NPML) detection scheme was developed at IBM Research - Zurich to enable the accurate detection of the data despite the reduction in the signal-to-noise ratio resulting from the use of an ultra-narrow 0.2- um data reader head. With this technique, which also takes the noise characteristics of FUJIFILM's BaFe medium into account, a linear density increase of more than 50 percent relative to LTO Generation 4 was achieved.

4. Low-friction GMR (giant magnetoresistive) read/write head assemblies: Two new head technologies have been developed by the tape development and research teams at IBM Research - Almaden, namely, a new reduced-friction head assembly that allows the use of smoother magnetic tapes and an advanced GMR head module incorporating optimized servo readers. These head technologies were critical for achieving the required track-follow performance mentioned above.


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