With all the hubbub about hard disk drives and solid-state drives, you'd think that there aren't means of file storage that can hold more data than them. Naturally, Sony set out to prove that assumption wrong, and used cassette tapes, of all things, to do it.And yes, we do mean cassette tapes, the sort used long ago to hold songs and play them on tape recorders at home, school or the corner of the street.
Compact disks and DVDs have long since pushed those cassettes into obscurity, and they aren't really used much today.
They do still hold great importance in servers, data centers and supercomputing installations though, because, as we're about to see, their storage capacity eclipses pretty much everything else.
Case in point, Sony has just revealed a magnetic tape cassette that can store 185 TB, marking a new world record in the field of data storage.
That means that the storage capacity per square inch is of 18.5 GB, greater than the record set in 2010 by IBM.
In fact, it is a five-fold increase in max storage, though the really relevant comparison is the one between the new record-setting cassette and the normal ones used in archival storage: 185 TB is better than that by a factor of 74-75.
Considering the fact that the storage technology has been around for more than half a decade, there wasn't much room for anything but continued improvement if the solution was going to endure the passage of time.
For those who want more technical details, the areal recording density of the new tape cartridge is of 148 Gigabits per square inch, owing to a nano-grained magnetic layer with fine magnetic particles and uniform crystalline orientation.
The new magnetic layer was made possible by a soft magnetic underlayer with a smooth interface that employs sputter deposition. It was independently developed by Sony.
The company won't go about commercializing its breakthrough alone though. In fact, it will join forces with IBM, the holder of the previous record.
IBM helped measure and assess the recording density of this new technology at the INTERMAG Europe 2014 international magnetics conference held in Dresden, Germany, yesterday (on May 4, 2014).
Unfortunately, the companies didn't give a date for when they'd actually start shipping the cassettes. Hopefully, it won't take a year. In the meanwhile, Sony will set about developing the next generation of cassettes, since it's not about to give up on the storage tech any time soon.