IBM and Fujifilm have created a 580 TB magnetic tape

Internet infrastructure concept. Abstract technology background. 3D rendering.


How much data IBM and Fujifilm can now store on a single tape cartridge.


Tape storage is getting a meteoric boost from two industrial giants: IBM and Fujifilm. Fujifilm announced a collaborative project between the two companies has resulted in the world's highest storage capacity-carrying magnetic tape. With capacity for 580 TB, it's no small feat.

A single tape cartridge with 580 TB packs 50 times more capacity data than existing cartridges (Fujifilm and IBM are comparing this with the LTO 8 tape drive) and, as Slash Gear reports, that's "equivalent to 786,977 CDs stacked 944 meters high."

Who needs this? — Most things stored "in the cloud" need to be backed up somewhere. Magnetic tape gets the job done but it's been ripe for improvement thanks to the astronomical increase in data humans generate thanks to high-definition stills and video cameras (well, mostly smartphones), and the growing collections of Big Data hoarded by firms.

IBM believes that this mode of storage will remain relevant for the next few decades and should move beyond the conventionally used material of barium ferrite particles on this kind of tape. The company knows a thing or two about data storage, after all — IBM pioneered the field of storage innovation. Fujifilm's contribution to the magnetic tape — by way of its ultra-fine SrFe (strontium ferrite particles) magnetic particles, which help create magnetic material for such tape — is only going to further improve storage technology.

Two titans collaborate — From the famous IBM punched card that gained fame during the 1920s with its rectangular body and 80 columns, to magnetic tape storage decades later, IBM also created the first hard drives of the sort that eventually made compact computers possible.

For Fujifilm, this partnership is further proof of the company's interest and presence in non-photographic sectors. The smartphone era proved to be both a business and an existential challenge for companies like Fujifilm, Nikon, and Canon. As millions turned to smartphones for not only communication and entertainment but also creative and professional activities like photography, the digital camera market declined.

To stay afloat, Fujifilm began venturing out of its commercial comfort zone. As the company's spokeswoman, Kana Matsumoto, told CNBC last year, "Fujifilm has accumulated numerous technologies of the world’s highest level in particle formation, nanoparticle distribution, film making and precision coating, and applied them to non-photographic fields to deliver medical X-ray films, printing materials and optical films for display panels."

Which makes its new union with IBM less surprising, and which could prove lucrative as it doesn't look likely the quantity of data we produce is going to slow down any time soon.