IBM and Fuji Photo Film Co. have demonstrated a record data storage capacity showing that an 8 terabyte tape cartridge format is possible.

Taking advantage of a new media coating formulation from Fuji Photo Film, IBM researchers built a drive capable of reading and writing data at 6.67 billion bits per square inch (Gbps). In 2002 the world record tape data density was 1 billion bits per square inch. That was also achieved by IBM.

IBM suggests that a future LTO format, available in 2011, could hold up to 8 terabyte, ten times more than LTO-4's 800GB (raw) data capacity, twenty times more than LTO-3. It implies that the cost advantages of tape over disk for storing large amounts of data over the long-term will remain decisive.

Cindy Grossman, IBM's VP for tape storage, said: "Greater data density and cartridge capacity enables (customers) to store more data in less space, keeping magnetic tape as the most cost-effective form of data storage." Tape systems are about one-fifth to one-tenth the cost of hard-disk-drive storage systems per gigabyte of data stored.

Quantum discussed a future 16TB tape a couple of years ago. That was before it bought Certance and joined the LTO Consortium.