back to article IBM prepares to demo 125TB MONSTER tape

IBM has revealed it is preparing a technology demonstration of a 125TB tape, and has revealed that LTO-6 tapes use shingling, with overlapped data tracks. In January 2010, IBM demonstrated a tape with 35TB of raw capacity. Apply LTO-6's 2.5:1 compression ratio to that and you get 87.5TB. This contrasted with the then-current …


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  1. mccp

    Apples and oranges

    " We have 4TB disks today and LTO-6 tapes with 6.25TB compressed capacity."

    Or, we have 4 TB disks today and LTO-6 tapes with 2.5 TB native capacity. Presumably, were you to apply the same compression scheme to disks that is applied to LTO tapes it would be reasonable for the disk manufacturers to claim 10 TB capacity? This drives me nuts as I inhabit a world where we are storing MPEG-2 and H.264 video which is pretty much incompressible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apples and oranges

      Tapes have hardware compression, disks don't, this is why tape drives quote compression and disks don't. Everyone knows that you take a rough rule of thumb of half the compression quoted for normal data and if you have specialist non-compressible data you should know to use the native capacity, which is always stated alongside the theoretical compression ratio.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Apples and oranges

        ...and everyone knows it's utter nonsense and the kind of not-quite-blatant-fraud that keep American tort lawyers employed.

        The notion that "Caveat Emptor" is fine, is the very reason ambulance chasers exist.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apples and oranges

        Well, tapes do NOT have HW compression, tape drives do. Disk arrays often have HW compression as well, you just switch it on.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First day of my new job

    I saw the tape backups were only capturing 80% of what needed to be done, but the boss did not want to buy more tapes as they were expensive "and you can only use them once".

    His solution was telling me to go out and buy some 8GB USB RAM keys (on sale in a local flyer) and put the missed files on those.

    1. rvt

      Re: First day of my new job

      I would quit right away, it will only get worse!

      On that note.

      I setup a raid1 system for a company, worked greatnwith snapshots and all. I left the company... Other guy comes in...

      One year later i got called Iif I still had some tapes, no, why?

      The bloke change it from raid1 to striping set to have more space and one hardisk crashed.

  3. Richard Cartledge

    It is interesting that when you compare the surface area of a HDD's platters with that of an unspooled tape, the capacity of tape is so much lower. I can understand why it's lower, but it must be 1000s of times lower density.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Tape does not operate in an hermetically sealed unit protected from everything, though, that's the point. That's why.

      A speck of dust would *destroy* a hard disk platter to make it unreadable (and you can't crack it open to blow it off and carry on even if that worked!). A speck of dust on a tape will be cleaned off by various brushes and be lost in the data's error correction anyway.

      Tape has its own problems though - stretching, temperature expansion, and all sorts of other nasties that *don't* affect disks.

      Which is why tape should never be your ONLY backup. Hell, stick it in the corporate backup scheme to backup to external USB hard drive WHILE spooling to tape. Because that hard drive won't give you 100% complete backup reliability, but it can be taken off-site too, replaced easily and cheaply, encrypted just the same, but will survive different *types* of disasters and restore more quickly. Hell, I've seen hard drives that have been submerged brought back to life. I don't think tape would quite stand the same treatment. And with backup the biggest word is REDUNDANCY - redundant backups on redundant media with redundant hardware (no point spending £10,000 on a tape backup system if you only have one tape drive and the place floods even if the off-site tapes are intact) with redundant methodologies in redundant locations.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >Which is why tape should never be your ONLY backup

        Except if you are using tape it's precisely because there is no other way of doing it!

        Boss, I'm not sure if we can trust that tape robot with the 1000 x 125Tb cartridges in it.

        Ok go and buy 100,000 USB harddrives and make a spare copy

      2. Marking Time

        Hard drives aren't hermetically sealed ether air exchange is permitted between the outside and inside of the drive to allow the drive to adjust to changes in air pressure.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tape not dead yet?

    What is it with tape? It's been predicted to disappear into irrelevancy for years now, but still hasn't quite managed it.

    Mind you, I can remember the same being said about hard disks, but they're still here and growing at a prodigious rate. No sign of FLASH overtaking disk in terms of capacity yet. Maybe memristor will...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tape not dead yet?

      See Lee's post...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tape not dead yet?

      It's because tape hasn't stayed still, while everything developed round it. If hard disk capacities were growing and the primary long term backup technology didn't, there would be a serious problem.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tape not dead yet?

      AC's law of technology death:

      1) Tape cease to be a viable backup medium approx. 6 months after we run out of IP addresses.

      2) The Internet will run out of IP addresses 6 months after tape ceases to be a viable backup medium.

    4. Erwin Hofmann
      Thumb Down

      Re: Tape not dead yet ?

      ... but should be ... tapes should be, definitely, dead ... based on my experience (30 years) this 125TB MONSTER tape is the surest way to loose ... well ... 125TB ... tape backups where the most frustrating experience in my whole computing career and retrieving data, after just 5 years, nearly impossible (mind you CD/DVD/BLURAY could even be worse) ...

      1. Ilgaz

        Re: Tape not dead yet ?

        The problem with tape, dvd, bluray and even half protype red laser systems is, companies and users miss steps 2 and 3.

        1) backup/verify


        2) catalogue it (even pen would work)

        3) physically move it to another location and secure it.

        Step 3 is why WORM is here to stay.

    5. Ilgaz

      Don't joke, wait for usb drive guys

      I see you are a bit sarcastic but seriously a lot of good quality enterprise articles are on the register being wasted by comments which are seriously ignorant.

      Problem is, they are all or will soon be in IT sector.

      I have even seen an idiot comparing a Z10 enterprise to his desktop gaming machine.

      It is like (no, not truck) comparing a 4K A list Hollywood production to your handheld "full HD" camera.

      For beginners, these tapes will be stored in underground silos with 5 level biometric security and even armed guards. Such data will never be joked with. We are speaking about trillions of dollars and even human life in some cases. IBM, mainframes are responsible for 80% of data in world, hiding that fact is a PR genius.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would be nice to see prosumer level tape..

    It would be nice to see a high-end consumer grade tape system that would store 6TB uncompressed, for something less than a thousand moneys(*1). I'd love to once again have a reasonable backup of my personal server.

    (*1) - I deliberately went LOLCat on the units, to avoid giving the country-specific trolls an opening. And unfortunately, as many have observed, no matter the nominal exchange rate, something that costs US$1000 in the US has a tendency to cost GB£1000 in the UK.

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: It would be nice to see prosumer level tape..

      There is a market for real, reliable hassle free daily backups but it seems the false sense of usb hard disk security killed it. So nobody dares to R&D a small company thing.

      Also, you know they even offload the entire company to google, dropbox etc. I was shocked when I saw a multi million surprise advertising campaign final cut was stored in a dropbox account, shared between 5 users and secured (!) via "PaSWord".

      No kidding. Just 5 years ago, these idiots were using an actual bank safe for single copy cassette.

  6. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    First time I read it...

    "Scheuer pointed out that tape cartridge capacity needed to develop so as to maintain a consistent advantage over 3.5-inch disk drive capacity."

    I thought tapes surpassed 1.44 Megabytes years ago.

    Yeah, I know, it's Friday, but not Beer-O'clock yet here in the US.

  7. Dick Emery

    I remember...

    ...backing up to VHS tapes over a special PCI card that cost about 30 quid if I recall correctly.

    I am still of the belief that a 2 disk mirrored solution for consumers should be standard these days. Maybe once most folks are on uncapped fiber we can then think about hosting offsite backups with our family and friends (You backup mine and I'll backup yours kinda thing) if you don't trust cloud storage solutions.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    I understand the need for tape in specific situations. However, at this point in time it is stupid to have someone assuming redundant backups using tape is a good solution. Try restoring a network from one and you will see why. It is perfect for archiving purposes, especially for public traded companies, but honestly, it is as obsolete as most other magnetic media.

    The cost benefit is not as good as it used to be, especially now that many large companies have offsite datacenters to transfer their data to.

    Oh, and I HATE tapes. Beer time here. Got to go now.

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  9. K

    "Three days to fill at LTO-5 speeds. This does not matter"

    You are f*cking joking, right?

    Most companies do a nighly back up, so a 3 day turn around would make these unfeasible!

    1. John M. Drescher

      Re: "Three days to fill at LTO-5 speeds. This does not matter"

      When this is released in 10 to 20 years the drives that would use these would certainly not be reading / writing at LTO5 speeds.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That's a lot of porn!

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