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article imageIBM develops computer tape capable of storing 220TB of data

By James Walker     Apr 10, 2015 in Technology
IT giant IBM has developed a new form of magnetic tape for computer storage that can hold 220TB of data on a reel of tape that could fit in the palm of your hand. The development will make it much easier to store vast amounts of data.
The company worked with Fujifilm to create the tape. It represents an 88-fold improvement over current "Tape-Open 6" class tape cartridges that hold 2.5TB of data and a 22-fold improvement on IBM's enterprise products.
The development surpasses rival Sony's announcement last year that it had designed a cartridge capable of storing 185TB of data.
Research scientists at the two companies successfully demonstrated that a 4-inch tape cartridge could hold 220TB of data. The firm released a video (above) explaining the developments. IBM fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou told V3: “With this demonstration, we prove again that tape will continue to play an important role in the storage hierarchy for years to come. This milestone reaffirms IBM's continued commitment and leadership in magnetic tape technology."
Many consumers may be unaware of the use of magnetic tape in computer storage. Tape is one of the earliest forms of storage medium and has been around for decades. Since being replaced by hard drives (and increasingly solid state drives) in personal machines, many believe tape to be extinct as a medium, helped by how it is no longer used for storing audio.
Tape has secretly lived on in server farms worldwide though. It is able to store vast amounts of data much more cheaply than hard drives or optical media like CDs.
Server backups at companies large and small are usually made to tape. The cartridges are easy to store and are readable for years. The data is not lost if dropped unlike hard drives, another potential advantage.
The new developments make tape an even more viable storage form. 220TB would be enough storage for all but the very largest of companies, capable of holding over 220 million books or 1.37 trillion text messages, according to V3.
IBM will announce more details at its IBM Edge conference in Las Vegas from 11-15 May and also at the 2015 Intermag conference running at the same time.
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