60-Second Tech

Tape Data Storage Makes a Comeback

Sony's new process lets them store more than 185 terabytes of data on a single tape cartridge. Larry Greenemeier reports


Remember magnetic tape? Maybe your first computer had a tape backup system. And of course cassettes were how you played music in your car before CDs.
But Sony’s latest foray into tape storage is anything but nostalgic. The company has a new process that lets them store more than 185 terabytes of data on a single tape cartridge.
You’d need about 3,700 Blu-ray discs to hold that much data. And it’s 74 times more information than what current data-center tapes can store, on average.
With all the data created and collected by mobile devices and sensors, storage is in high demand. Hard disks cost about 15 times as much as tape. And data centers that store our social media musings on disk use more than 200 times more power than they would if they used tape.
Future data centers will likely use a mix of these new super-charged tapes and hard disks. Tape is great. But if it had met all our needs we wouldn’t have moved to faster and more durable disks and mp3s as soon as those technologies could be invented.
—Larry Greenemeier
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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