Sony has achieved the world's highest tape storage density for next-generation, high-capacity recording by demonstrating the storage of more than 11 billion bits of data on one square inch (11.5 Gb/inch2) on magnetic tape.
This breakthrough, made possible through advancements in read/write heads, encoding techniques and metal evaporated media technology, nearly doubles the previous tape storage areal density record of 6.5 Gb/inch2, set by Sony in early 2000. Based on these achievements, Sony is actively developing its next-generation Advanced Intelligent Tape™ (AIT) drive, and with its strong R&D foundation, the company still expects to extend the AIT format to at least a sixth generation member.
Sony's AIT family and its new S-AIT platform leverage extensive R&D investments in high areal density recording, validating the roadmap to double capacity and performance about every two years.
"This latest areal density breakthrough will allow the AIT and S-AIT architectures to progress in a parallel manner and achieve our current roadmaps," said Takao Hiramoto, president for the Server Solutions Company of Sony Corporation's Broadband Solutions Network Company in Tokyo. "Our tape technologies are designed to meet the current and future demands of customers who require reliable, scalable and cost-effective data storage."
"In addition to capacity, performance, scalability and reliability, a forward-looking roadmap is essential for companies that are looking to make an investment in a tape storage technology," said Fara Yale, chief analyst at Gartner Dataquest's Computer Storage Service in San Jose, Calif. "Users always want the reassurance that their investment will be protected as their storage needs expand."
"The exploding storage needs of our customers are driving them to demand new and better data storage solutions. We look forward to continuing to work with Sony to integrate the future AIT and S-AIT roadmaps into the ADIC family of intelligent, storage network enabled automated libraries," said Jonathan Otis, senior vice president of technology for Advanced Digital Information Corporation in Redmond, Wash.
"The future AIT and S-AIT family members resulting from Sony's impressive areal density achievement will continue to offer a compelling combination of capacity and performance and enable Qualstar to deliver enterprise-class automation solutions," said Bob Covey, vice president of marketing for Qualstar Corporation in Simi Valley, Calif.
"We support Sony's AIT tape technology because it is the only one with the headroom to match growing storage demands well into the future. This announcement demonstrates once again Sony's commitment to advancing the AIT technology for generations to come," said Bill Reed, vice president of marketing and business development for Spectra Logic Corporation in Boulder, Colo. "The AIT and S-AIT roadmaps, coupled with Sony's ability to deliver backward compatible tape storage, reinforce our mutual dedication to customer satisfaction through investment protection."
Technology Behind the Breakthrough
Sony's recently demonstrated storage areal density breakthrough of 11.5 Gbits/inch2 was achieved in its Core Technology Development Center in Japan, and enabled by sophisticated head and media technology. Surpassing past technological limitations, this recent achievement marks the third time that Sony has substantially increased the recording density capability of AIT tapes since the introduction of the AIT platform in 1996. In fact, Sony has systematically increased the future AIT areal recoding density from 1 Gbit/inch2 in 1998 to 6.5 Gbits/inch2 in 2000 and now to 11.5 Gbits/inch2.
In the most recent accomplishment, Sony is employing second-generation shielded spin-valve Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR-2) read heads that are highly sensitive to effectively and reliably detecting low-level magnetic fields from the tape. As a result, products incorporating GMR-2 heads can reliably perform at higher linear bit densities and much smaller track widths than current designs. When coupled with the lower magnetization layer of Sony's Advanced Metal Evaporated (AME) tape formulation, data recording capacity is significantly improved, yielding future capabilities of up to two TBs in an 8mm cassette or up to ten TBs in a half-inch, single-reel cartridge.
In addition, the AME process provides precise control of the magnetization layer and surface properties of the media, which is key in reducing wear on the data media and the drive's magnetic heads assuring long service life. AME media also has the advantage in limiting electrostatic charge build-up between the media and the GMR heads.
Helical-scan Driving Higher Density Points
Helical-scan recording technologies pioneered by Sony enable users to store more information on less tape and with less wear on the tape and drives. Both AIT and S-AIT drives are based on helical-scan recording, which is characterized by a very stable rotating drum/head platform, low tape tension and single-pass operation, to permit accurate and reliable data recording and read-back at very high track densities. This efficient data packing density is typically five times greater than most linear serpentine recording technologies, enabling industry-leading, space-efficient customer solutions.