O ver the past few weeks, I’ve been updating a number of technical documents about how LTO-7 and soon to be released LTO-8 have made quantum leaps in both capacity (recording density) and data reliability. During this process, I thought back to the days of old when we old-timers were just getting started, before data storage became a specialty. It’s somewhat mind-boggling how far data recording has progressed in recent years. Back in the day, the maximum data capacity of a 2,400-foot 9-track tape reel, recorded at 6,250 BPI was 170 MB. Today LTO-7 recording density is 19,107 bits/mm, which equates to 477,675 BPI, providing 6 TB per cartridge on a 3,400-foot piece of media—and LTO-8 is projected to have 12 TB per cartridge. Truly amazing!

But, tape is not done planning for the future. Recent research and development by IBM and Sony has demonstrated a recording density of 201 Gb/in², which will support up to 330 TB per cartridge.

With these capacities on the horizon, it’s easy to see why we see a significant increase among our customers in the use of tape for cloud storage and long-term archival applications where storage density and low-power consumption is critical. One industry analyst’s thoughts on tape’s place in the data center is “don’t count it out just yet.”

As you can see, an obituary for tape is not coming soon—in fact all data points to tape having a long healthy future.

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