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Sony's 185 TB magnetic tape sets new storage record

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Sony has developed new magnetic tape technology that can fit more than 185 terabytes of data on a single cartridge, the company announced last week.

The technology allows for the storage of more than 18.5 gigabytes of data per square inch of tape — 74 times the capacity of standard, mainstream magnetic tape in the form of linear-tape open Ultrium technology, whose LTO-6 cartridges can hold up to 2.5 terabytes of data. Sony's technology sets a new record for areal recording density of tape storage, according to Sony. As a comparison, the current standard for Blu-ray Disc storage is a dual-layer disc that can hold 50 GB of data; Sony's tape could fit nearly 3,790 of them.

In a press release, Sony said it reached the record 185 terabyte figure by developing technology to deposit fine magnetic particles an average of 7.7 nanometers in size onto a "soft magnetic underlayer." In order to determine the final capacity of the tape, Sony brought in an "exploratory recording and assessment device" from IBM.

Sony is now working to bring its magnetic tape to commercial production, with an eye toward the ever-increasing need for high-density media in uses such as data systems and cloud-based storage.