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Data Storage

Sony Tape Storage Breakthrough Could Bring Us 185 TB Cartridges 208

Posted by samzenpus
from the pack-it-in dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "Who says tape storage is out of date? Sony researchers have announced a breakthrough in magnetic tape tech that increases the data density per square inch by a factor of 74. The result could be 185 TB tape cartridges. 'By comparison, LTO-6 (Linear Tape-Open), the latest generation of magnetic tape storage, has a density of 2 gigabits per square inch, or 2.5 TB per cartridge uncompressed.'"
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Sony Tape Storage Breakthrough Could Bring Us 185 TB Cartridges

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  • By way of context... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 02, 2014 @05:30AM (#46897619) Journal
    Since this was the first question that came to my mind: apparently HDD platter densities (in similar 'we have demonstrated the technology but don't look for it at Best Buy just yet' stage) are ~ 1 terabit/square inch.

    Obviously, the cost of packaging a given number of square inches of HDD platter is markedly higher, so the tape is likely to offer better value(if you are using enough to spread the, generally alarming, cost of the drive(s) and possibly robotic library around a bit); but it's hard to beat the density of a very tightly controlled rigid medium that never leaves a controlled environment during its entire life.
  • by quantumghost (1052586) on Friday May 02, 2014 @05:40AM (#46897633) Journal

    So at 185TB per tape with the write speed of LTO6 "at speeds up to 400MB/s (1.4TB/hr) [quantum.com]" [optimal]....~132 hrs per tape. But in reality 300 MB/s or 1 TB/hr so about 176 hr/tape. 168 hours in a week.....Next weekly back up starts before the first one finished.....

    Yeah, I know, they're not all level 0 backups.....you get the idea....sometimes it might be better to have 2 smaller tapes, than 1 large.

    • 185TB

      How many Library of Congresses full of porn is that?

    • by iCEBaLM (34905)

      If the density is greater, the speed will (probably) be greater if the tape pull speed is the same....

      • by Zocalo (252965)
        Or the amount of tape in the cartridge could be smaller. Maybe a return to DAT sized cartridges?

        It's probably a horses for courses thing though. There are plenty of applications, particularly in the scientific research arena, that generate vast amounts of data that can be spooled off to tape for archiving/distribution pretty much at leisure before the hot storage is wiped for re-use. Even with Internet2, I could easily imagine somewhere like Arecibo, CERN or the SKA being all over this kind of storage
    • You're assuming that you'd want to create a full tape's worth of backups. If you're generating 1.4TB/hour of data, then you might have this problem. If you're only generating a few GB/day then it's quite easy for your weekly backup to run in under an hour and just append to the tape. Periodically you swap over to a new tape.
      • by asvravi (1236558)

        Periodically you swap over to a new tape.

        Every 180 years to be precise. Your bigger problem would be material rot, assuming you would want anything more than a couple of decades worth of backup.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I wonder if they really mean 185TB or if that is the usual 50% compression ratio marketing wank, in which case it would only take half a week two write.

    • by drolli (522659)

      My guess: when the technology which increases the data density by a factor of 100 is ready, then also the writing mechanism will be significantly faster.

      • by JWW (79176)

        Initially I thought that might not be true because tape will still be linear and you would still need to move it past the read heads.

        But, if you work to make the read heads (and the tape) wider you could still have the same velocity of tape, but write more data (on top of the more data you're writing because of density increases) and actually achieve very good throughput.

        • Initially I thought that might not be true because tape will still be linear and you would still need to move it past the read heads.

          Let's assume a 100m long piece of tape that holds 1TB. That means each meter of tape is about 10GB/m of storage density. If tape flows past the head at a rate of 1m per minute, you are looking at read/write rates of 167 MB/s.

          Now, let's change the bit density of the tape to be 50 GB/meter. The tape still flows past the read/write head at 1m/min. Which gives us read/wri
    • Yeah, if you really need to back up 180 TB per week, then you should probably save time by writing multiple tapes in parallel. They wouldn't need to be smaller, though - you could still save a lot of storage room by reusing the large tapes.

    • IMHE tape is always an order of magnitude slower than the advertized speed, so it is likely even worse than what you calculated.
      • IMHE tape is always an order of magnitude slower than the advertized speed, so it is likely even worse than what you calculated.

        If your tapes are writing that slowly, something is wrong, and I'd be worried about shoe-shining. Without putting much effort into it, my LTO5 jobs currently run at around 125-135MB/s. With modern tape, it helps a lot to stage to disk first, or get software that can multiplex backup streams to keep the tape buffers fed.

        • by afidel (530433)

          Be careful with multiplexing, it speeds backups but can make restores brutal. We did a test restore of our full file server once and realized we couldn't hit the 72 hour SLA due to shoe shining during restore, we ended up pulling our multiplexing back from 8 to 2 which required a few more drives in the library to complete weekly backups in the same timeframe.

    • by jythie (914043)
      Depends on how you are doing the backups. Say you only have 1TB of data, you could back it up once per day appending and only need to swap out tapes every 9 months or so.

      Though were I see this really being useful (at least to me) is recording scientific data. Experiments can put out obscene amounts of information and I could easily see hooking one of these up to a detector and being happy that you only need to change tapes once a week or so.
      • Depends on how you are doing the backups. Say you only have 1TB of data, you could back it up once per day appending and only need to swap out tapes every 9 months or so.

        Unless they make the tape material out of unobtainium, odds are high that you would break the tape well before the 9 months is up. LTO-5 end-to-end read/write durability is only about 200 passes. Half that number if you do a full tape verify after write (which counts as an additional R/W pass).

        If you use a different tape for each day
    • I would expect with a higher density tape, you would get a higher write speed as well.
      The read and write speed of the tape can be electrically increases much easier than speeding up how much tension that a fast rolling tape can handle.

    • by elistan (578864)

      I don't think you can make valid estimations about the write speed of this new potential format by assuming it'll work at LTO 6 speeds. As density goes up, so does write speed.

      Consider LTO 1 through 6:

      • LTO1 - 4880 bits/mm, 20 MB/sec
      • LTO2 - 7398 bits/mm, 40 MB/sec
      • LTO3 - 9638 bits/mm, 80 MB/sec
      • LTO4 - 13250 bits/mm, 120 MB/sec
      • LTO5 - 15142 bits/mm, 140 MB/sec
      • LTO6 - 15143 bits/mm, 160 MB/sec

      It seems that doubling storage density yields slightly more than double the speed. (And obviously, like going from LTO5

    • by donaldm (919619)

      So at 185TB per tape with the write speed of LTO6 "at speeds up to 400MB/s (1.4TB/hr) [quantum.com]" [optimal]....~132 hrs per tape. But in reality 300 MB/s or 1 TB/hr so about 176 hr/tape. 168 hours in a week.....Next weekly back up starts before the first one finished.....

      Yeah, I know, they're not all level 0 backups.....you get the idea....sometimes it might be better to have 2 smaller tapes, than 1 large.

      If that is the case then your backup strategy is totally wrong. To get the best performance from a backup you should be streaming your data to the actual tape, however this in practice is rarely true.and consequently you get what is commonly called a "shoe-shine effect" in that the data will be written to the tape then stop while waiting for the next batch of data to catch up, however when the next batch of data arrives the tape has to reposition itself. Obviously this is very inefficient and can add a cons

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday May 02, 2014 @06:02AM (#46897695)
    New games and movies may be packaged this way. 180TB of DRM, 5TB of content.
    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      180TB of DRM, 5TB of content.

      Then how would you fit a rootkit in there?

      /ducks

      • by wbr1 (2538558)
        That is part of the DRM package. They cannot blatantly call it a rootkit now can they?
  • Nostalgia (Score:5, Funny)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Friday May 02, 2014 @07:05AM (#46897821)

    What's next? Discs of vinyl which can hold up to 1000 songs?

    • by Z80a (971949)

      You probably can pull that off with compressed music in a lossy format like OGG and a CED disc:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
      If the CED is able to keep a image quality at least comparable to the VHS, you can use an ARVID solution to store data on it:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]
      At the 325 KB/s mode, you can store up around 1.1 GB of data per side of the CED, or 2.2 GB total, thus allowing you to store 1000 songs of up to 2.2MB of size.

    • by asvravi (1236558)
      Not so fast! They still haven't perfected slipstream of rootkits onto Vinyl.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday May 02, 2014 @07:15AM (#46897849)

    If you don't restore at least one file after every back up, you are going to discover (as a company I worked for found) that your tape is blank when you need it most.

    • by jabuzz (182671)

      Rubbish, what you found is that you had inadequate backup software and monitoring of the backup process.

      • It was state of the art; recommended by IBM; and was reporting successful backups to the AS/400 without errors.

        The only way to be sure is to restore something. Then you know.
        If your entire company (or personal financial life) is literally at stake on the backup, based on experience, I recommend you restore items from the backup to confirm success. It's a lot of risk mitigation for a couple minutes extra work.

        But hey, your funeral, eh?

        • by Sarlok (144969)
          And even that doesn't fully protect you; the drive can always eat the tape. It happened to me once when I needed to restore something. You plan, take good backups, even test them out, but when you need it is when the drive will fail and eat your latest backup tape.
        • by afidel (530433)

          I've always said if you don't have an offsite, offline, and verified backup you don't have a backup at all =)

  • I know it is no longer sold - read the reviews to get the idea [amazon.co.uk], but a pre-pre-release of this technology from Sony, could explain why this particular tape was selling for 39.2 million pounds each, while masquerading as a simple DV tape.
    • All I'm seeing in these reviews is a bunch of off-the-wall fiction completely unconnected to reality. Is this a joke?

      1 star
      I've been saving up for over 14 lifetimes to purchase this box to help me record home movies, however I was very dissapointed with the product, as upon opening it burst into an array of colors to the likes of which I'd never seen, cured my mono, cured my dog's mono, gave me x-ray vision, allowed me to fly, raised my IQ by over 170 points, gave me the power of invincibility, gave me the power of invisibility, crafted me a working Iron Man Suit, and above all made me a sandwich that tasted like dreams. It did all these things but it didn't even work right when I tried to use it for my home movies with my dog. I threw it out yesterday.

  • Security cameras (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Friday May 02, 2014 @07:50AM (#46897937)
    This would be great for security camera applications. The number one reason resolution sucks on security camera recordings is due to a lack of storage. Rather than seeing a indecipherable black and white (color is even worse) video of a suspect robbing a store, we would get it in HD. Have a few cameras on the inside, and on the outside to capture the getaway car, this could actually discourage some crimes.
    • Well they seem to do OK. Whenever they show those 5 pixel faces on the TV, they always seem to be able to identify the culprit.

  • ... will be only three times that of the same storage in disks.
  • Color me reluctant, but I have no interest because Sony is notorious for proprietary formats [fastcompany.com] that lock you into their product and I still despise their hostile disposition for customers when they gave us the rootkit scandal [wikipedia.org].
  • Why does it seem like every time there is a "major breakthrough" or new format that offers "massive stoarge", when it actually materilizes it is way less storage then advertised? I thought when Bluray was announced it was suppose to feature up to 250GB, and I remember reading an article years ago that Pioneer created a 500GB disk.

    And what about all the major breakthroughs in hdd that I hear about every other year, yet space seems to be going up at a fairly slow but consistent pace.

    Must either be a) marketin

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

      Conventional (pre-BD-XL) Blu-ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs (50 GB) being the industry standard for feature-length video discs. Triple layer discs (100 GB) and quadruple layers (128 GB) are available for BD-XL re-writer drives.

  • Doesn't much help if backing up to tape and recovery of said "gobs and gobs of data" takes longer than the remaining lifespan of the universe.

  • It installs rootkit software on your server that won't let you do any backups if it finds even a single MP3 file.

  • It's not just the size that counts! Granted that 185TB data cartridges is impressive, but how long does it take to read/write such a monster?

  • What could ever replace the durability of magnetic tape? Duct tape, maybe. [homestarrunner.com]

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