Petabyte tape cartridges are coming down the line

Fujifilm is working on a petabyte tape cartridge. This behemoth could go into production from 2035, according to a slide deck in a company press briefing today.

A 1PB tape far exceeds the highest capacity on the LTO roadmap, which extends out from the-about-to-be-delivered LTO-9, with 18TB raw capacity, to LTO-12 and 144TB. Assuming a doubling every LTO generation, it would be LTO-15 when a 1PB+ tape was reached.

A 10PB raw capacity tape library today would need 830 LTO-8 tapes compared with 10 x 1PB tapes. This would increase the tape library’s capacity 83X over its capacity using LTO-8 cartridges.

In real life, tape cartridges hold data compressed at a 2.5:1 ratio, so a 1PB raw tape cartridge would have a 2.5PB effective capacity.

Today’s Fujifilm tape uses a Barium Ferrite magnetic layer. The company is likely to follow this with Strontium Ferrite media, which have smaller nano-particles that are less than 60 per cent of BaFe particle size. This increases areal density and hence capacity. The company has already demonstrated a 580TB raw capacity tape using Strontium Ferrite media.

For the 1PB tape cartridge, Fujifilm is developing technology based on Epsilon Ferrite, which has even smaller nano particles.

The company is also working on a F-MIMR (Focused Millimetre Wave-Assisted Magnetic Recording) technique. This excites the particles in the media so that data can be written and leaves them with stable bit values at room temperatures and in millimetre wave-free conditions.