When you think about the future of data storage, Sony and IBM want you to think of magnetic tapes. Because what sounds like a vintage throwback fad is actually cutting-edge, as the two have teamed up to create a palm-sized tape that can hold approximately 330 TB of data.
This tape can hold more 20 times what current, similarly sized tapes can hold. On physical tape, the extraordinary memory size works out to 201 billion bits of memory per square inch.
Here’s a close look at the 330 TB storage
Like all data storage methods, magnetic tapes have pluses and minuses. They’re a physical medium, which adds a bonus level of stability compared to NAND flash memory. If you’ve got a large amount of data that you won’t need for a while, even better. But the problem with physical items is its upkeep. Because they have moving parts, tapes generate friction, causing degradation after every use. That’s where Sony stepped in.
The company used a special lubricant, applied between the tape surface and magnetic head, to help reduce the effects of wear and tear. “This low-friction lubricant,” the company says in a press release, “not only reduces friction between the tape surface and magnetic head, but also features a highly durable bond between the lubricant and magnetic layer of the tape.”
The companies see the tapes as the perfect backups for cloud storage. “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,” says IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou in an official statement.
While impressive, it’s too early to say if the magnetic tapes will achieve data storage immortality or if these tapes will be available to buy anytime soon.
Image and video credit: IBM
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.