Researchers at IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratories have developed magnetic tape technology that can store 29.5 billion bits per square inch, which would allow a cartridge to store about 35 terabytes of data, more than 40 times the storage capacity of current cartridges and several times more than a hard disk of similar size. The researchers used a magnetic medium called barium ferrite, and, by working with Fujifilm, were able to orientate the barium ferrite magnetic particles so that their magnetic fields protrude perpendicularly from the tape, instead of lengthways. This arrangement allows more bits to be stored in a given area, and also strengthens the magnetic fields. Additionally, thinner tape can be used, allowing 12 percent more tape to be stored on a single spooled cartridge. Increasing the density of data on a tape makes it more difficult to reliably read information, which was already a problem due to electromagnetic interference and because the heads retain a certain amount of residual magnetism from readings. To solve these problems, the IBM researchers developed new signal processing algorithms that simultaneously process data and predict the effect that electromagnetic noise will have on subsequent readings.
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