World's 1st exabyte storage system

World's 1st exabyte storage system

Summary: Exabyte? That's 1,000 Petabytes, 1,000,000 Terabytes or 1 billion Gigabytes. 1 EB is a big number, but that's not the most impressive thing about the new technology

TOPICS: Hardware, Storage

Exabyte? 1,000 Petabytes, 1,000,000 Terabytes or 1 billion Gigabytes. 1 EB is a big number, but that's not the most impressive thing about the new technology.

Who? Oracle/Sun/StorageTek announces a new tape drive this morning, the StorageTek T10000C. StorageTek built their business on high-capacity tape drives and robotic tape silos for mainframe and large-scale data storage environments.

What? With a 5 TB native capacity and normal 2x compression, each cartridge can store 10 TB of data. Key to the capacity is the use of a new medium, Barium-Ferrite (BaFe) tape.

BaFe has a couple of big advantages over today's metal particle tapes.

  • Fujifilm has figured out how to mass produce BaFe particles that are 1/3rd the size of current metal particles. Smaller particles = higher density and higher coercivity.
  • Unlike metal particles, BaFe doesn't rust. Today's metal particles used in tape typically have 2 layers of ceramic coating to protect against oxidation, an extra processing step BaFe - which is very stable - doesn't need.

Of course, a new tape without a new tape head to take advantage of it is useless. New media and head development go hand in hand.

While Fujifilm did the heavy lifting on the media, StorageTek built a 32 track read/write head. The most impressive number? They spec an unrecoverable read error rate of 1x10-19 - 1,000 times better than enterprise disks.

Oh, and StorageTek's largest silo has 100,000 slots. Do the math.

How long? It can take a couple of minutes to access a file on a tape silo, so their primary use is for archive data that doesn't need rapid access. So how long will archive data last on these new tapes?

Fujifilm did accelerated life testing for 30 days and claim the new tapes have a 30 year life span. YMMV.

256-bit AES encryption at wire speed is standard on the drive. With compression, the drive can write 360 MB/sec.

The Storage Bits take This is an essential move for the tape folks. History tells us that when a more convenient medium's capacity equals the incumbents, the old standby won't be standing much longer. Even if it costs more.

Hard-shell 3.5" floppies beat out 5.25" and 8" floppies. CDs and DVDs wiped out consumer tape drives and Zip drives. USB thumb drives and downloading are killing DVDs and Blu-ray.

With 3 TB drives coming to market, 5/10 TB tape cartridges keeps tape in the game. And BaFe has legs: last year Fujifilm demo'd its potential to grow to 70 TB compressed on a single LTO cartridge.

That gives the disk guys something to shoot for.

Comments welcome, of course. For a bit more history and commentary on tape's future see last year's A 70 TB tape cartridge: too much, too late?.

Topics: Hardware, Storage

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  • When can I ....

    get one of those for my notebook ;-)

    Oops, thought it was a HDD. Don't need tape
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    How about movies on tape? The VHS was wiped out for resolution motifs.
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    I would have hated to have been assigned the task to stress test that thing.

    What is really needed is an archive medium with an indefinite life span.
    • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system


      the problem with "indefinite" lifespans is that you generally find out the real life span *after* it has passed and you are too late to do anything about it...
    • We need... archive medium with an indefinite life span. Hmmm.

      I know! How 'bout black monoliths? They appear to be indestructible and last for millions of years.

      There is, of course, the downside of attracting ape-like early humans. However, this is a minor problem and easily overcome by placing counter-attractants (e.g., jacked-up junk cars) at suitable distances from the primary sites.
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    Acid free paper anyone?
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    It's not an EB system if the tape only holds 10TB.
    "How long?" is too short, how long does it take to backup and restore 10TB?
    • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

      Right, it is <i>isn't</i> an EB <i>device</i>. It is an EB <i>system</i>.

      According to STK it - the system - can write over 500 TB an hour. But if my arithmetic is correct that would take several hundred drives.

      Robin Harris
    • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

      @amccombs@... If it has 100,000 10TB drives - it's an exabyte.
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    "It's not an EB system if the tape only holds 10TB."

    Huh? That is as big as it gets - currently anyway.

    The main reason for buying this is security - very few people will have one of these in their garage to enable them to walk away with 10TB of data.
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    Phew !!! What will folks do with all this storage? Well, I guess eventually all of us will be heroes of our own Truman Show.
    • Duh. HD porn of course


      LOTS of it ;-)
  • Imagine doing a format c:

    ... on this baby... by the time it finished you have basically wipe out all of human knowledge.... but don't worry, that operation would surely take a couple of millenia, enough time to rebuild the current one.
  • I saw a StorageTek tape unit demoed at Sun.

    I don't think it held 100k cartridges though. It was oddly reminiscent of mounting a 9-track reel on a drive that was bigger than myself.
    Mac Hosehead
  • Wake me up...

    ...when it's available in thumb drive form factor.
  • Tape. We don't need no stinking tape!

    I used tape for minicomputer backup for years. The only thing it was good for was failing when you actually needed to restore data.

    Please no moving parts ;-)
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    Um, do the math...

    360MB/s can be written. So, if you wanted to write an exabyte of data on this...

    360MB/s ~ 31TB/day
    Total of 32,258 head days to write data or 88 head years
    So you would need 88 heads to just write this much data in one year. Any less than 3 heads and you can't even write to the entire thing in less than 30 years in which time you need to replace all of the medium. Sounds like it needs to go faster.
    • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system


      Did you even RTA? The unit has 100,000 heads, one for each slot.

      Do the math.
  • RE: World's 1st exabyte storage system

    I have changed my last reel and unsnarled my last cassette. NO MORE TAPES for me ! !
  • How they love the numbers game

    Bigger, faster, smaller, less (or more) expensive. Anyway it keeps marketers and reviewers happily employed, and "consumers" miserably decision- blocked waiting for the next great thing. I think there are limits beyond which "if we can we must" (to quote Mumford: Pentagon of Power) need to be carried.
    General Ludd