Fujifilm, IBM tech could yield 35TB magnetic tape drives

Crystalline particles used to store data are one-third typical particle size

Fujifilm Recording Media U.S.A and IBM today announced that they were able to demonstrate a new particulate that can be used to create magnetic tape cartridges that are 44 times more dense than today's Generation 4 LTO Ultrium cartridges.

The magnetic media technology uses a new process of aligning barium-ferrite (BaFe) particles on the tape. It enables a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch with magnetic tape media, allowing for the storage of 35TB of uncompressed data. BaFe is a crystalline substance that does not corrode or change chemically over time, making it ideal for long-term data storage.

Fujifilm said its process for laying down BaFe particles on tape, which it calls "Nanocubic technology," uses a new coating process and advanced dispersion techniques to achieve an ultrathin magnetic layer that produces higher resolution for recording digital data.

The Nanocubic technology creates BaFe particles that are about one-third of LTO tape's metal particle size and lays down the particles in a uniform, perpendicular manner, according to Fujifilm.

Fujifilm succeeded in the microparticulation of BaFe particles to 1,600 namometers, which is one-third the current metal particle volume.

An atomic view of the Barium-Ferrite particles

Click to view slide show

Perpendicular recording means the particles stand upright for higher density compared with the traditional, horizontal method.

"We are hopeful about bringing this technology to market and believe it will change the face of tape storage," said Peter Faulhaber, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Fujifilm Recording. "We believe that tape has the potential to be the next-generation storage solution as it meets all the core needs of the market."

According to Norio Shibata, CEO of Fujifilm Recording, the BaFe particle offers superior storage with "lower noise and higher frequency characteristics than other metal particles."

Fujifilm first demonstrated the technology with IBM tape cartridges in 2006, achieving a density world record at that time as well.

Reducing a ferromagnetic particle to microscopic size is a challenge because the process can reduce the material's resistance to demagnification, Shibata said.

BaFe particles have a high resistance to demagnification, which makes their high-density recording performance superior.

Cindy Grossman, vice president of IBM Tape and Archive Storage Systems, said the advancement shows that "tape storage is alive and strong and will continue to provide users reliable data protection, while maintaining a cost advantage over other storage technologies, including hard disk drives and flash [drives]."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, send e-mail to lmearian@computerworld.com or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed .

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