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You think the Magnetic Tape (cassette) has become history? Not Really! Check this out~

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You think the Magnetic Tape (cassette) has become history? Not Really! Check this out~

Issue Time:2020-02-20
Childhood Memory
Still remember the first tape you bought? In those years, especially for the the millennials, they were still using the tape to listen to Jay Chou who just debuted.

Later, we gradually grew up, the tape was replaced CD player,later MP3 player, and finally a smartphone. The tape became a memory of a generation. Although it is difficult to find traces of magnetic tape in daily life now, magnetic tape has not been eliminated yet. Instead, it has become a secret weapon for technology giants to store big data.

Why Tape?
Although cloud computing is considered a future trend, technology companies that currently provide cloud services, including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, are actually using tape to back up massive amounts of data.

Why tape? As we all know, the reading speed of magnetic tape is much slower than that of hard disk and semiconductor storage, and even ordinary users will not use it to back up data, not to mention the technology Internet companies whose data volume is in terabytes.

These advanced technology companies certainly know it, but in fact magnetic tape also has unparalleled advantages in storage technologies that hard disk doesn't. The first is security. A tape cannot be accessed without installing a driver. This offline state isolates hackers and network attacks and is not easily lost or tampered with.

In 2011, Google Mail Gmail accidentally deleted emails from more than 40,000 accounts due to a bug in an update. Although Google has always used hard disks to store data copies in multiple data centers, some data cannot be recovered. Fortunately, these data are also backed up to the tapes, so that all data were restored.

Storage Tape today
In addition, the cost of using magnetic tape is also lower. The price of a 1 TB mobile hard disk is about US $ 50, and the price of a magnetic tape of the same capacity is only US $ 5. Besides, magnetic tape is more durable than the hard disk A general hard disk lifespan does not exceed 10 years, while the magnetic tape can be stored for decades. The tape only needs to be inserted into the slot of the mechanical tape library, without power consumption, and also saves a lot of power costs.

Therefore, in addition to technology companies, many companies and organizations that have higher requirements for data security are still using disks to store data. Such as banks, insurance companies, national archives, and scientific research institutions, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

So does the use of magnetic tape as a type of data storage sacrifice efficiency for safety and cost? And in the face of the increasing amount of data every year in the era of big data, can tape, a technology born more than half a century ago, meet the demand? In fact, the development of magnetic tape technology has surpassed many people's imagination.

In 2014, Sony used the self-developed sputtering thin layer deposition technology to lay 7.7nm ultrafine magnetic particles on magnetic tape to achieve high-density magnetic storage with a storage capacity of 185TB.

IBM is also one of the technology companies that has been committed to promoting the development of tape storage technology. In 2015, IBM and Fujifilm developed a single-cassette tape with a capacity of 220 TB, which cost only one-fifth of the cost of a hard disk. The comany has a dedicated research team in Zurich, Switzerland, responsible for advancing tape technology. According to team scientist Mark A. Lantz, IBM solved the problem of storing 201 gigabytes per square inch in 2017 and introduced Sony's sputtering thin film. Layer deposition technology increases the capacity of a single cassette to 330 TB.

In 2015, the Information Storage Industry Association (INSIC) formed by companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle announced an "International Tape Storage Roadmap", predicting that tape storage density will reach 91 GB per square inch in 2025, and will break through every 2028 200 GB per square inch.

In fact, the storage capacity of magnetic tape has grown at a rate of 33% per year for many years, and there is no sign of slowing down, which also means that it can grow at a rate of doubling every two years in the next 10 years. Before all gradually fail in Moore's Law Later, magnetic tape may become the last information technology that follows it.
According to IDC data, big data on the Internet is growing at a rate of 30% -40% per year, and the current hard disk capacity growth rate is less than half of the growth rate of big data. Perhaps tape may fill this gap and become the ideal storage technology.
All in all, magnetic tape is a tape storage system. It is one of the common storage media with the lowest unit cost of information storage, the largest capacity, and the highest standardization of all storage media. 

It has good interchangeability and is easy to save. In recent years, it has greatly improved the reliability of tape storage and the speed of reading and writing due to the use of encoding technology with high error correction capabilities and channel technology of write-on-read. 

According to the working principle of read and write tapes, it can be divided into helical scanning technology, linear recording (data stream) technology, DLT technology and more advanced LTO technology. This type of tape is further divided into DLT (digital linear tape) tape and IBM3480 / 3490/3590 series Two types of tape. 

Due to the rapid development of DLT tape technology, it has become an important standard for network backup tape drives and tape library systems, and because of its large capacity, high speed, and unique development potential, it has made it a leader in medium and high backup systems. 

DLT tapes have a capacity of up to 35GB per box, and the cost per unit of capacity is relatively low; IBM3480 / 3490/3590 series tapes are produced by IBM, and the storage capacity of each tape can reach 10GB. The corresponding drive system is actually a tape library. It can store multiple tapes, and its robot can automatically select any one of the tapes to the drive.