IBM to Celebrate 60th Year of Digital Tape Production

Once again, the conception that tape is dead is being debunked by a tech giant. IBM has proudly begun to chatter about its 60th anniversary of digital tape development and distribution efforts. The company is more excited than ever about LTO tape in 2012, as it works to offer tape solutions with immense densities and growing capabilities.

While disk storage costs continue to rise dramatically, IBM is proud of the fact that it is offering less expensive and bug-friendly backup options for companies of all sizes. Also, performance of tape continues to rise as the next generation of tape drives are expected to hit 525MB/sec. at only $25 per terabyte. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Jumping back in history, IBM released its first 7-track tape. Coined the 726 Tape, the device was the size of a pizza and held only 2.3MB with a transfer rate of 7.5. In today’s world, that translates to a mere 1.5 minute song held on an iPhone. Not long after, IBM released its first magnetic tape that was sued to capture data from the Eckert-Mauchly UNIVAC I. The device was humongous, and IBM’s tape held only 224KB of data.

Fast forward to 2012 and organizations around the world are benefiting from IBM’s 800GB LTO-4 with 1.6TB of compressed data. Not only is such density impressive, a tape can be bought for only $22. This is one-fifth the cost of most spinning disks, which can lead to monumental savings over the long run. Not to mention that many companies have the expensive of running many racks of spinning disk storage arrays, which takes both a heavy investment in technology and energy expenditures.

On the other hand the Ultrium Linear Tape Open (LTO) specification, the most commonly used tape solution by organizations, only costs 1.2GB/sec and 32TB of data can be stored on a single cartridge.

What about cloud storage, you may be wondering? Will that lead to the demise of tape? In recent years, many experts predicted the cloud storage inception would mean the end of tape; however, many industry experts are suggesting that tape may be the best option for backup up data. This opinion stems from the fact that the already planned LTO-6 and LTO-7 densities will be out of the world. Additionally, because LTO tape cartridges are each separate objects, a cloud provider can easily control the data that is on each tape versus being forced to have data in a single location. Also, because newer versions of LTO can be partitioned, cloud providers can offer many virtual libraries to their customers and deny all inter-accessibility.

Finally, there are discussions of tools for analytics being wrapped around tape. This will pave the way for more effective methods for sorting data. According to Lucas Mearian of Computerworld, this and the many more impressive developments are sure to make a major impact on tape’s budding future. IBM is banking on this prediction after 60 years of tape innovation.

If you are looking to purchase LTO Ultrium tape media or if you have moved away from tape and need to dispose of your old data tape media formats contact us at 949-757-0100 or

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Apr 9, 2012 by