According to the New Scientist, data storage tapes are poised to make a comeback in a big manner. This stems from a growing need to storage large tranches of data in a cost-effective and power-efficient manner. Hence, ultra-dense tape drives are poised to replace traditional hard disk drives.
In 2010, researchers at Fuji Film in Japan and IBM in Zurich, Switzerland, had already built prototype tape drives that can store 35TB of data on a single cartridge that measures just 10cm by 10cm by 2cm. This was achieved using magnetic tape, which have been coated in particles of barium ferrite.
The real debut of this high-density storage drive is when the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the world's largest radio telescope becomes operational in 2024. Once the telescope is up and running, it is expected to pump out 1 petabyte (1 million GB) of compressed data daily. Evangelos Eleftheriou from IBM Research, who is part of a team working to build ultra-dense storage tapes for the SKA, expects to be able to store 100TB on a cartridge of a similar size to their earlier prototype, "...by shrinking the width of the recording tracks and using more accurate systems for positioning the read-write heads used to access them.".
Although there is a main disadvantage of slow access when using tape storage solutions, the researchers believe that hard disk drive storage is unable to achieve the data density improvements due to physical limitations. Hence, in their opinions, the future of data storage will lie in these energy-efficient ultra-dense tape drives.