Three Advances Make Magnetic Tape More Than a Memory

Sony and IBM keep tape storage running apace, with these key developments

4 min read
Photo: IBM Research
Small Tape, Big Cache: This 1-square-inch strip of magnetic tape, held by IBM Research’s Mark Lantz, can store 201 gigabits of data, a new record.
Photo: IBM Research

In the age of flashmemory and DNA-based data storage, magnetic tape sounds like an anachronism. But the workhorse storage technology is racing along. Scientists at IBM Research say they can now store 201 gigabits per square inch on a special “sputtered” tape made by Sony Storage Media Solutions.

The palm-size cartridge, into which IBM scientists squeezed a kilometer-long ribbon of tape, could hold 330 terabytes of data, or roughly 330 million books’ worth. By comparison, the largest solid-state drive, made by Seagate, is twice as big and can store 60 TB, while the largest hard disk can store only 12 TB. IBM’s best commercial tape cartridge, which began shipping this year, holds 15 TB.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
Vertical
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
DarkBlue1

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":["31996907"]}