In this age of eclectic and advanced data storage technology, you might not believe that cassette tapes are still a viable method. After all, we have optical media (such as CDs, DVDs, and BluRays). Cloud services and digital data servers are all the rage these days. How could the seemingly antiquated cassette tape compete with these cutting edge technologies? Sony may have the answer for all of us. The Japanese tech giant recently improved the production methods of magnetic tape. The company promises that Sony magnetic tape data storage will be the back up media of the future. These Sony cassettes not only hold impressive amounts of data, but they are actually on their way to becoming worthy opponents for other digital storage technologies. Let’s take a look at how magnetic tape storage from Sony works. We’ll also examine what makes this reinvention of an old media type such a breakthrough in data storage.
Will Sony Magnetic Tape Data Storage Handle Modern File Sizes?
You may not even be aware of this, but the use of magnetic tapes for data storage is relatively widespread among businesses these days. Traditional cassette tapes make use of magnetic material covered with a film of magnetic powder, with a recording capacity of 2.5 terabytes (in case you need a refresher, a terabyte is roughly 1,000 megabytes). This recently developed Sony magnetic tape data storage makes it possible for a single tape to store as much as 185 terabytes of data. In other words, such a tape, especially designed for corporate use, can hold the equivalent in data of 74 regular cassette tapes. To put that into further perspective, one of these new Sony tapes could hold no fewer than 3,700 BluRay discs.
How does this new Sony Magnetic Tape Data Storage Work?
Keep in mind, this technology has been especially designed with companies and business in mind. In theory, anyone can use it. It will probably prove most useful for businesses that need to store massive amounts of data. Sony developed it as a natural response to the needs expressed by businesses. Prior to the emergence of this new technology, companies that wanted to increase the storage capacities of their magnetic tapes had to shrink the magnetic particles on their surface, which effectively store the data. Though feasible, this process was strenuous and costly. In most cases, the shrinking process was not very cost efficient.
In came the new tape from Sony: it has a soft under-layer, with a smooth magnetic surface. The production method involves the formation of film in a vacuum through a process known as sputter deposition. Sputter deposition entails shooting ions of argon onto a film made of polymers; the technique produces layer upon layer of tiny crystal particles which are uniformly arranged onto the film. Each layer is only 5 micrometers thin. The sputter deposition technique is not new. It too has been optimized for modern times. Until now, sputter deposition created rough underlayers on polymer film as it rearranged the crystal particles. By changing the shape and patterning of these particles, it also limited the amount of data that could be stored on the film.
But now, Sony is able to develop soft and smooth magnetic layers, while also maintaining the shape and patterning of the crystals. The Japanese company has announced it will continue to develop this technology. Sony plans on making the technology more efficient and available on a large scale. Company representatives have stated that their goal is to increase recording densities even further.
Believe it or not, Sony is not the only name in data storage that’s placing its bets on the cassette as the storage technology of the future. Back in 2010, IBM and Fuji Film researchers in Zurich developed a prototype for high density film. The film allows users to store up to 35 terabytes of data. That’s about the amount of information that fits inside 35 million books. This massive depository of data comes in the form of small cartridge, measuring only 10 by 10 by 2 centimeters. The cartridge contains magnetic tape covered with barium ferrite particles. At the time, this new development in data storage technology got many in the field excited. At the time, media outlets reported that the technology would make its debut at the Square Kilometer Array. The SKA, as it is best known, is the largest radio telescope in the world. It’s going to start working in 2024 and churn out one million gigabytes (or 1 petabyte) of compressed data each day.
Facebook now has over one billion users. The average Internet user has grown accustomed to high-definition video streaming. Health organizations the world over are producing high quality medical images. It’s obvious that the world at large needs a more efficient way to store big data. And though the cassette had been all but obsolete since the mid- to late nineties, it looks like Sony, IBM and FujiFilm are helping the technology make a comeback in ways perhaps not many had expected. We look forward to seeing Sony magnetic tape data storage in the future.