Deep dive into why tape still has a future in storage (Restore it All Podcast #129)

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Mark Lantz, Manager CloudFPGA and Tape Technologies for IBM, joins us on this week’s podcast to talk about how he feels that tape still has a future in data storage. We talk about past and future advancements in the substrates tape uses, as well as how tape has not approached the superparamagnetic limit, the way we have with disk. (This is the limit at which you cannot increase the storage capacity of a particular magnetic medium without creating more problems.) We have reached this limit on disk, where the magnetic grains have gotten so small, they can’t get any smaller without assistance. One such method of assistance is heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), which we discuss – and how HAMR comes with its own problems. By contrast, tape hasn’t come even close to the superparamagnetic limit. In fact, tape can scale the aerial density 100X before it starts getting close. We also discuss coercivity and bit error rate (BER), which are extremely important concepts to understand. Another topic we talk about is how tape is getting better at scaling capacity faster than speed, because most people do not need faster tapes. (We talk about how and why we can’t stream the ones they have.) We finish out the podcast with an explanation of why helican scan drives (e.g. 8mm, 4mm, & AIT) all disappeared overnight. We cover a lot of territory in this episode, so buckle up!

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