Technology giant IBM has a large research division, which over the years has produced some major breakthroughs. The company is working on technology that allows data to be stored on individual atoms, and in June, announced that it had managed to squeeze 30 billion transistors in a fingernail-sized chip.
Today, IBM Research, in collaboration with Sony Storage Media Solutions, has announced that the two companies have created a tiny prototype storage cartridge that can store up to 330 terabytes of uncompressed data and still fit into the palm of your hand. The cartridge, called a sputtered magnetic tape, has an areal density of 201 gigabits per square inch, which is a world record and more than 20 times the density of commercial tape drives.
The breakthrough achievement was jointly announced by the two companies at the 28th Magnetic Recording Conference in Japan. IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou said in a statement:
“Tape has traditionally been used for video archives, back-up files, replicas for disaster recovery and retention of information on premise, but the industry is also expanding to off-premise applications in the cloud. While sputtered tape is expected to cost a little more to manufacture than current commercial tape, the potential for very high capacity will make the cost per terabyte very attractive, making this technology practical for cold storage in the cloud.”
The two organizations worked closely for years and had to develop several new technologies to reach this level of areal density. IBM developed new read/write heads, advanced servo control technologies and innovative signal-processing algorithms, which were combined with Sony's new low-friction lubricant technology for magnetic tapes. The two companies now hope to build on this achievement to commercialize the technology and bring this next-generation of tape storage media to market in the near future.