The Japanese company says its new tape is capable of holding 185 terabytes, or 148 gigabits per square inch. At that much capacity, Sony’s new tapes hold the equivalent of 11,840 16 gigabytes iPhone 5s devices — or about 3,700 Blu-ray discs.
The cassette tapes, which were developed with the help of IBM, obliterate the previous record, which was set in 2010 by Fujifilm and IBM. Back then, the companies set the record with a tape capable of holding 35 terabytes.
Sony is set to present and explain its new cassette tapes at the INTERMAG Europe 2014 international magnetics conference, being held this week in Dresden, Germany.
There, Sony will explain how it enhanced a technology known as “sputter deposition” to achieve the high-storage cassette tapes, which are about 74 times the capacity of tapes being used today.
Tech giants like Facebook and Google use data centers to store all the information users upload to their services, such as photos posted on Facebook or emailed through Gmail. With these cassette tapes, companies will be capable of storing more data in the same amount of space that they use today.
That’s important considering that by 2020 the amount of data on the planet will reach 40 zettabytes, or the equivalent of nearly 43 trillion terabytes. That’s about 5,200 gigabytes for every person in the world.
“The expansion of cloud services and the creation of new markets to utilize big data have led to a growing need for a data storage media which can store large amounts of information,” Sony said in a statement.
Sony’s new cassette tapes are important for the tech industry, but they likely won’t have a direct effect on consumers. That’s because accessing data on a cassette tape takes more time than it does to access data on a disc drive.
So while companies will appreciate the high storage capabilities of Sony’s tapes, consumers prefer the speedy flash drives found on their laptops, tablets and smartphones.