Magnetic tape data storage systems are experiencing a renaissance driven by the widespread utilization by hyperscale cloud companies. The increasing adoption of tape is driven by the convergence of two trends: 1) the continued exponential growth in data which averages about a 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and 2) the recent slowdown in the areal density scaling of hard disk drives (HDDs). The net result: we are creating data at a much faster rate than we can afford to store it, at least if we want to store it all on spinning disk.

Fortunately, a large fraction of the world’s data, approximately 80%, is cold data, i.e. data that is infrequently accessed and hence can tolerate higher access latencies. For such applications, tape has multiple advantages:

  • it provides a 4-8x lower total cost of ownership,
  • it has up to a 96% lower CO2 footprint over its lifecycle,
  • it provides additional security through a built-in air gap and
  • tape has massive potential to continue scaling cartridge capacity for many future generations.

Research areas

  1. Developing the tape hardware and media technologies to enable the continued scaling of tape systems to cartridge capacities of hundreds of TB per cartridge and data rates of 1000MB/s and beyond.
  2. Modeling the performance and reliability of tape library systems.
  3. Developing software that makes tape easy to use and extremely reliable.

Roadmaps and white paper