Fuji Tackles ILM with ‘Nano’ Tech

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Data rarely just expires anymore, thanks to aging accounts, burgeoning databases and the stiff penalties exacted on those that play fast and loose with financials or patient files. Of course, it all needs to go somewhere. And so the concept of information lifecycle management (ILM) was born, prodding companies to adopt policies that generally reach one conclusion: Eventually, data of a certain age is offloaded to tape.

Last month, Sun made headlines by debuting a new tape drive, the T10000, following the company’s acquisition of StorageTek. With a transfer rate of 120 megabytes per second and the ability to store up to 500 GB of uncompressed data on a cartridge, the drive provides a definite leap over its predecessor, the StorageTek T9940B.

The other part of the equation is the tape, specifically one that allows the drive to reach those capacities and reliably lift data at those speeds. Some Fujifilm advances have led the company to produce a new breed of tape that can handle the load.

When matched with the T1000, Fuji’s cartridges meet the drive’s vaunted transfer rates and capacity, but it didn’t come without some know-how and years of packing more data into tighter spaces.

Certainly, there are some variables in a tape’s design, but one aspect remains constant. In short, explains Peter Faulhaber, Fuji’s VP of OEM Business Development, “Storage has grown, but the physical size has to generally remain the same.”

Faulhaber charts the history of magnetic tape, starting with open reel designs to 1985, when a tape cartridge with 18 tracks hit the scene. Ten years later, in 1995, half-inch tapes accommodated 128 tracks and could store 10 GB of data. Fast forward another decade, and the same sized tape stores 500 GB on 700 tracks.

Half-inch tapes have served businesses well for years, and there’s little chance of a radical departure any time soon. So to meet growing storage demands while sticking to the familiar form factor, Fuji’s scientists hit the labs. What resulted is a new manufacturing process dubbed Nanocubic technology.

As its name suggests, the challenge is getting tiny molecules to work reliably. To accomplish this, Fuji works with a magnetic coating made up of “nano-sized, much smaller particles” to ensure higher density, explains Faulhaber.

This contributes to a coating that is ten times thinner than existing methods, which sticks (and stays stuck) to the underlying layer courtesy of a new binding dispersion process that densely and evenly coats the tape.

Add a thinner, yet durable base film and the result is a tape that, while significantly slimmer, retains enterprise-class reliability. The innovation also allows the company to pack more of the 6.5-micron thick tape into an enclosure — 917 meters of it, in fact.

All told, Fuji’s Nanocubic tapes can store up to 500 GB uncompressed or 1.5 terabytes when employing 3:1 compression. And that’s something that should attract the attention of data-hoarding IT departments shopping for the ILM-centric T10000.

Article courtesy of Enterprise IT Planet

Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to Datamation, eWEEK, and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro.

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