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Monday, May 19, 2014
IBM And Fujifilm Squeeze Really Big Data In Magnetic Tapes

IBM researchers and FUIJIFILM on Monday announced today they have demonstrated 85.9 billion bits per square inch, a new world record in areal data density on low-cost linear magnetic particulate tape.

This breakthrough in data density equates to a standard LTO cartridge capable of storing up to 154 terabytes of uncompressed data, which is 62 times greater than today?s current LTO6 cartridge capacity.

This new record was reached using a prototype tape incorporating NANOCUBIC technology developed by Fujifilm, with tape-drive technologies developed by IBM.

According to Dr. Mark Lantz from IBM's Research lab in Zurich, Switzerland, the areal data density was enabled by four critical technologies. The first of these is a new barrium-ferrite media technology developed by FUJIFILM in collaboration with IBM. The enhanced NANOCUBIC technology decreases the BaFe magnetic particle volume, which is essential for high density data recording, while maintaining its thermal stability to ensure long term archivability of recorded data.

Since the surface roughness of tape is directly related to both signal-to-noise ratio and high quality output, NANOCUBIC technology incorporates NANO coating and dispersion techniques to strictly control surface smoothness. In addition, NANO perpendicular orientation precisely aligns the BaFe particles to produce high quality read signal over a wide frequency.

Secondly, the researchers developed a new writer technology which enables them to take full advantage of the new media. Third, they developed a new signal processing technology which enables them to reliably detect the bits even though the size of the bits was we shrunk by more than a factor of 40. Then finally the researchers developed new track following technologies that enable them to control the position of the head on the tape down to the nanometer scale. This allows them to shrink the size of the written tracks down to less than 200 nanometers.

This month, IBM also teamed up with Sony to launch storage tape that can hold up to 185 terabytes of data per cartridge. The two companies said they were able to accomplish the feat by developing a technique called "sputter deposition" that prevents magnetic particles used to store data from growing beyond a certain size.

The IBM and Sony release is a more expensive version than the "low cost" particulate media tape that was announced by IBM and FUJIFILM, according to IBM.

Another difference is that the IBM and Sony release was conducted in a very controlled lab environment with special equipment, which operatea at speeds that are much, much slower than the speed of tape drives, making it very difficult to determine what kind of performance to expect in an actual tape drive.

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