IBM has announced that their work with Sony media has reached 330TB of raw data on a tape. This is a spectacular amount of data that can be squeezed into cold storage.

The tape is made my sputtering material in a vacuum onto barium ferrite tape. Sputtering in general involves bombarding a target material with energetic particles such as non-reactive argon gas ions, causing atoms to be separated from the target source and deposited on a substrate.

With the new approach IBM now believes tape has at least another decade of improvement to go.

NASA is probably the biggest user of tape as they have vast archives of telemetry to manage. Hard disks are limited to 14 GB and SSD drives are upto 100 TB which is more spacious but the cost is stupendous. Tapes are inexpensive.

This means the LTO roadmap now can reach LTO-12 which is several generations ahead of the current market.

LTO-8 was published in December 2017 and it handles 12 TB per cartridge. LTO-8 is not as backwards compatible to its advisable to retain earlier drives to be able to read existing archives if migration is planned. We recommend retaining drives for every generation so that recovery is easier from old archives.

Half-height drives can be installed in a desktop machine with a suitable controller. This can be used to read tapes for recovery. LTO-5 and above appear as disk drives making copying easy.

Tape now is seen as cold storage as they can be ejected from the library and stored in low cost drawers which are as safe as the building.