Technical details for 123 billion bits per sq. inch tape record (2015)

IBM’s world-record achievement leverages breakthrough improvements in several areas of the magnetic tape system.

New high-density particulate NANOCUBIC™ BaFe magnetic tape

The enhanced NANOCUBIC™ technology decreases BaFe magnetic particle volume, which is essential for high-density data recording, while maintaining its thermal stability to ensure long-term archivability of recorded data.

Developed by FUJIFILM Corporation in Japan in close collaboration with IBM Research scientists, this enhanced next-generation NANOCUBIC™ tape incorporating NANO coating and dispersion technology and ultrafine, perpendicularly-oriented BaFe particles enables high-density data recording without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods.

Advanced servo control technologies for head positioning with nano-scale fidelity.

To enable aggressive track density scaling, the IBM team made several advances in the area of track follow performance, leading to a more than 39-fold increase in the number of data tracks compared with the LTO6 format.

  • A new prototype low-noise tape transport system,
  • A new high-density experimental servo pattern, which, in combination with

  • An improved method for detecting the position information encoded in the servo pattern enables the generation of position measurements with nanometer accuracy,
  • A prototype high-bandwidth track following actuator and
  • An advanced set of tape speed optimized H-infinity based track follow controller.

Combining all of these technologies, the team demonstrated a track-follow performance with a standard deviation of only 5.9 nanometers from the target track position.

These technologies in combination with a 90-nm-wide giant-magnetoresistive (GMR) read head enable the use of a track width of only 140 nm.

Innovative signal-processing algorithms for the data channel.

A new data channel that combines an advanced timing recovery scheme and novel variations of noise-predictive, maximum-likelihood (NPML) detection schemes and a new iterative decoding scheme, which together enable the reliable retrieval of data recorded on the new BaFe media at a linear density of 680,000 bits per inch with a 90-nm-wide GMR read head. This combination of technologies ensures the same user bit error rate performance as is achieved with the latest IBM enterprise tape drive despite the dramatic reduction in reader width and increase in linear density.

IBM Tale of Tape

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Mark A. Lantz

Mark A. Lantz

IBM Research scientist