Back in 2012, a collaboration between FujiFilm and IBM IBM -1.08% resulted in prototype cassettes which could hold 35TB of data, and at the time that was considered a monumental accomplishment. Sony’s new method means you could cram 185TB onto a single cassette tape. The average Blu-Ray disc holds 50GB and a standard PC hard drive 1TB.
To accomplish this, Sony has utilized and enhanced a technology known as “sputter deposition.” I won’t pretend to understand its intricacies, but it involves layers of magnetic crystals firing argon ions at a polymer film substrate.
Obviously the creators of the Walkman aren’t envisioning their new cassette storage technology being used in the consumer space, but Sony says this is way more than an experiment. Magnetic tape is still a viable option for mass data storage and backup, and Sony wants to commercialize their product and bring it to market in the near future.
Interestingly, the Tape Storage Council claimed that tape storage shipmentsgrew 13% in 2012, and were projected to grow to 26% in 2013.
So in an age of cloud storage and plummeting hard drive costs, why would cassette tape still be relevant? A 2012 report at NewScientist explains that traditional hard drive data centers use 200 times more energy than a tape storage array of the same size. Or how’s this for a data scare? When it goes into full operation by 2025, the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope will kick out 1 million gigabytes (1 Petabyte) of data per day.
Facebook meanwhile has adopted Blu-Ray as its storage medium of choice, and is expected to launch their own storage facility by the end of this year which stores 1 Petabyte of data onto 10,000 discs. Either way, we’re going to need some seriously beefy storage solutions by the year 2020, when the IDC predicts the entire “digital universe” — all data created, replicated, and consumed — will blow up to a staggering 40 trillion gigabytes.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this nostalgia-tinted piece by Forbes contributor Michele Catalano about the lost art of the mixtape.
Source: Forbes.com by Jason Evangelho