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Fuji envisions 400TB tape drive

Fujifilm announced a technological breakthrough that will allow it to construct a massive 400 terabyte tape cartridge by the end of the decade. Tape drives currently top out at about 12 terabytes of storage.

The Blocks and Files web site reported that Fujifilm says it can achieve the newer, greater capacities by switching from the standard Barium Ferrite (BaFe) tape coatings to Strontium Ferrite (SrFe). BaFe coatings have for generations become smaller and smaller, allowing for greater storage capacities. But researchers say they have now reached a point where particles have become too small to be read reliably.

Progress in storage tape capacity follows roughly the same principle as Moore's Law, which accurately predicted for decades that the number of transistors on a chip will double every one-and-a-half to two years. Likewise, tape storage capacities roughly double every two-and-a-half years. Each tape drive generation uses a successive nomenclature; the first was LTO-1 and the current one is LTO-8. LTO stands for Linear Tape-Open, an open standard format developed by IBM in the 1990s to ensure compatibility among competing tape storage manufacturers.

Under LTO-1, the first generation of tapes used metal particle (MP) coatings and had a capacity of 100 gigabytes. The first tapes to apply BaFe, LTO-6, reached a 2.5 TB capacity and the first generation to use SrFe coatings, LTO-10, will achieve a 48 TB capacity. LTO-10 tapes should be commercially available by 2022. Anticipated milestones before production of the 400TB cartridge are a 96 TB model in 2025, a 192 TB model in 2027 and 384 TB model in 2030.

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