Sony tape topped

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Sony unveils the next generation Advanced Intelligence Tape technology, AIT-5

Sony Corp. this month released AIT-5, the new generation of tapes and tape drivers. The new generation of Sony's proprietary Advanced Intelligence Tape technology represents 'the highest-capacity 8mm tape to the market,' said Alan Sund, Sony general manager. A single cartridge, which can fit easily in a shirt pocket, can hold 1GB of compressed data, or about 400GB uncompressed. In contrast, AIT-4 could hold an uncompressed 200GB of data.

Tape is nothing if not a mature technology, so we were curious as to how Sony doubled AIT's storage capacity. In three ways, Sund explained.

A new magnetic head, which reads and writes to the tape, allows for a tighter track pitch, allowing the data to be packed more closely together.

The company also reduced the size of the particles that make up the magnetic layer of the tape, making it smoother and so able to hold that additional data.

Finally, Sony fielded a new technology, called dynamic tracking, which allows the head to move more closely with the tape as it fluctuates when running through the device. Dynamic tracking allowed the engineers to increase the recording density of the tape itself, because the portion of tape previously set aside as shoulder space can be filled.

Despite the larger capacities, the transfer rate of the machines remains the same as it was for AIT-4, namely 24MB/s for uncompressed data, or 62.4MB/s for compressed data. As far as backward capability goes, the new generation of readers will be able to read AIT-3 and AIT-4 cartridges, though you will need to purchase a new AIT-5 drive to read and write to the AIT-5 cartridge. AIT-5 can interface with the SCSI, and Sony will offer AIT-5 tapes in the standard data cartridge as well as in the archive-friendly WORM cartridge format.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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