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Return of the tape: Sony 185TB cassette tape packs a wallop but for what purpose?

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The cassette tapes these days are seen as items from a long forgotten era of the 80s and Walkmans. However, Sony has created a new record with storage capabilities using one of these tapes as the storage medium.

The tape can hold 185 TB of data in a single cartridge or 148 GB per square inch, which is a new record. Basically, you can put 3,700 Blu-ray discs on it.

The advantage of such tapes is that they can store way more data than optical media and are cheaper as well as less power hungry than running hard drives inside data center servers. However, the process of transferring data from the tapes is slow in comparison.

Sony isn't bringing back the Walkman anytime soon, however, as the technology is aimed at corporate use and data backup. In this way going through the tape to find certain files or data isn't as big of a deal nor is the slower transfer rates that would hamper everyday use - hence why tapes aren't so popular for consumers anymore.

"...by independently developing a soft magnetic underlayer with a smooth interface using sputter deposition, it has succeeded in creating a nano-grained magnetic layer with fine magnetic particles and uniform crystalline orientation. This enabled Sony to successfully develop magnetic tape technology that achieves the world's highest areal recording density for tape storage media of 148 Gb/in2 (gigabits per square inch)," Sony stated.

According to Sony, IBM assisted them in creating this tape. It was developed by using "a soft magnetic underlayer with a smooth interface and uniform crystalline orientation."

The announcement of this technology was unveiled at the INTERMAG Europe 2014 magnetics conference that is currently taking place in Dresden, Germany. The event will continue to take place until May 8.

Sony is also working on various other storage methods, some of which should be more interesting to you as a consumer. In March, Sony announced its partnership with Panasonic on the Archival Disc, which is an optical media that can hold between 300 MB and 1 TB of data and alst up to 50 years.

To go down memory lane, you may have heard of Sony's AIT (advanced intelligent tape) from the early-mid 2000s.  This was a magnetic tape that offered 65 GB of storage. You can still grab one of these suckers off Amazon or other retailers for about $50, although they may not be much use by now.

There is no word or release date on the new tape that was unveiled at INTERMAG, however stay tuned for more info from the show.

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