Sony stores 185 TB of data on a cassette tape

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I am all for going retro and vintage finds. I find them geeky cute. We’ve seen a lot of retro or vintage style gadgets but Sony’s new 185TB Cassette Tape just beats everything.

I admit I’m part of that generation of cassette tapes and walkman players. In fact, I still have my small collection of tapes in the attic (BackStreet Boys, anyone?). I have no plans of bringing them out and I want to dispose them already. Cassette tape is not officially dead because there are still cassette players around. Some cars can still play them.

While cassette is no longer a standard, it will remain a part of the music industry–the analog type. But just recently, Sony showed off a cassette tape that can store hundreds to thousands of songs–perhaps even up to millions. The tape can hold up to 185TB worth of data at 148GB per inch. Whoa! That’s a whole lot!

The mega huge storage capacity is enough to hold all the data of several households. But then again who would trust to save all his files into one cassette tape? Is this only a novelty item? Will Sony really bring back the cassette tape era–this time digitized?

I don’t think I have to illustrate how big 185TB but I bet you could store 3 to 4 full 50GB Blu-ray files. So why did Sony made this cassette tape? Apparently, Sony is doing an experiment but it’s also more than that. Seems like Sony wants to prove that magnetic tape can still be used to hold digital data and offer it for commercial use.

Why cassette tape technology again? According to a NewScientist report, traditional hard drives use 200x more energy compared to tape storage. If that’s the case, then cassette tape storage is really more efficient.

I don’t know if this effort will move forward  so let’s just wait and see.

[via Forbes]

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8 comments

  1. LogicMage

    Tip of the hat to Wolfram Alpha. 185 TB is enough to hold roughly 3,800 two layer Blu-ray discs. Not 3 or 4. Also, it is not a cassette tape that we are talking about. It is an LTO tape cartridge. Such are sold by Spectra Logic, IBM, Oracle, and others. These are more like the size of a VCR tape, and have a single large spool of tape, up to half a mile of tape in a single cartridge. They are enormous.

  2. Realist

    Not exactly a math major, I see. As for perspective on 185,000 GB, see this link for the Library of Congress.

    http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2009/02/how-big-is-the-library-of-congress/

    They are apparently digitizing the LOC at the rate of 3 – 5 PETAbytes per year. Since one of these holds 0.185 petabyes, they would need (maybe) 25 of these per year. The estimate is that it will take “decades” to complete this job.

    Also in the same article, Yahoo alone evidently generates 25 terabytes per DAY. We can only imagine how much the NSA generates spying on the world but it’s gotta be a whole, whole lot.

    All of that is probably why they’re doing this.

  3. Robert~

    There is no link to the Sony release. Please provide sources.

    3 * 50GB = 150GB, 4 * 50GB = 200GB. 1TB = 1000GB, so yeah, I think you can fit 150-200GB inside a 1TB drive. According to your unverified story, that’s three 50GB Blu-Ray movies PER INCH. That like is like saying you might be able to store three or boxes inside aircraft hanger.

    Next time, I suggest spending more than ten minutes writing an article and another ten minutes providing any support and evidence. Certainly, don’t rely on an 18-month old story or a four-year-old paper, neither of which support your contention for a 185TB cassette tape.

    This is just a poorly written story all around.

  4. David C.

    I’d be worried about the volatile and fragile state of the tape. If that much data can be stored in only one inch, all it would take is one wrinkle to corrupt the data. Fascinating idea, but no, thanks.