Until recently, Metal Particle (MP) technology was solely used to record your data. This has proved reliable with over 200 million MP LTO tapes in use throughout the world.
However MP technology is reaching its limits for a reliable High Capacity tape. The huge (25x) gain in capacity has been achieved by an increase in both tape length (45%) but mostly in track density (over 500%) which has necessitated a reduction in the size of the individual particles to accommodate them on the tape. As the particle size became smaller the passivating coating needed to prevent their deterioration has become proportionally thicker. This has made achieving the signal to noise ratio needed for reliable data transfer harder to achieve without passing the tape very close to the drive head – so the time had come for a new particle to take tape forwards as the reliable low cost storage solution it is.
Barium Ferrite (BaFe)
BaFe particles are smaller than the metal particles used in LTO tape, and BaFe particles are more stable, not needing passivating. These features allow BaFe tapes to have a higher packing density than MP tapes and so a higher capacity. IBM has already used BaFe to great effect in its TS1140/Advanced Type C tape quadrupling its capacity to 4TB, and all future generations of LTO will have to use BaFe particles to achieve the increased capacities demanded.
Why BaFe media for LTO6 when MP media will do?
BaFe media has better magnetic properties compared with MP, resulting in a higher signal- to-noise ratio and a reduced bit error rate, both of which result in a better product for the tape user.
These superior properties of BaFe mean the tape and drive head do not have to be as close together as is the case with MP tape, meaning less wear for both these components in use, giving the user greater reliability.
Because BaFe is an oxide rather than a metal alloy the inevitable demagnetization over time that occurs with MP tape does not happen – this means stored written tapes will not deteriorate over time allowing the user complete confidence in the archive.
In short BaFe is a better solution for the reliable transmission and storage of data on tape, resulting in less wear for the drives too.
This fantastic technology which is improving both performance and cost has now become the standard for the latest LTO 7 tape with all manufacturers now embracing BaFe. Users of IBM LTO6 and 3592 Advanced Type C Media have been benefiting from this great particle since 2011.
Please see our articles page for links to various White Papers and other studies of Barium Ferrite and its place in tape storage’s future.