Technical details: IBM's world-record achievement leverages notable improvements in four areas of the magnetic tape system
- New high-density, dual-coated particulate magnetic tape: Developed by FUJIFILM Corporation in Japan in close collaboration with IBM Research scientists, this next-generation version of its NANOCUBIC™ tape uses a new ultra-fine, perpendicularly-oriented barium-ferrite magnetic medium that enables high-density data recording without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods.
- Advanced servo control technologies for ultra accurate head positioning: Three new servo control technologies have been developed by IBM Research - Zurich, leading to a more than 25-fold increase in the number of data tracks that can be squeezed onto the half-inch-wide tape: 1) a new servo pattern, enabling the generation of high-bandwidth nanometer-scale position information; 2) a new method for detecting and decoding the position information encoded in the servo pattern, and 3) advanced state-space-based control concepts that, combined with the other two technologies, culminated in the demonstration of an extremely precise track-follow performance of less than 24 nm standard deviation from the target track position. These technologies were instrumental in reducing the track width to less than 0.45 micrometers.
- Innovative signal-processing algorithms for the data channel: An advanced data read channel based on a new data-dependent noise-predictive, maximum-likelihood (DD-NPML) detection scheme was developed at IBM Research - Zurich to enable the accurate detection of the data despite the reduction in the signal-to-noise ratio resulting from the use of an ultra-narrow 0.2- um data reader head. With this technique, which also takes the noise characteristics of FUJIFILM's BaFe medium into account, a linear density increase of more than 50 percent relative to LTO Generation 4 was achieved.
- Low-friction GMR (giant magnetoresistive) read/write head assemblies: Two new head technologies have been developed by the tape development and research teams at IBM Research - Almaden, namely, a new reduced-friction head assembly that allows the use of smoother magnetic tapes and an advanced GMR head module incorporating optimized servo readers. These head technologies were critical for achieving the required track-follow performance mentioned above.