1. Can the United States develop a domestic source for advanced tape media? Unless this occurs, system designers will be limited by the availability of experimental tapes from non-U.S. suppliers and may be forced to adopt particular formats supported by the present U.S. manufacturers. Reduction in the number of formats would be better for users but not necessarily as profitable for the manufacturers and would certainly constrain innovation. The recent agreement between IBM, Seagate and Hewlett-Packard to develop a new linear open format is a very positive step. This area is an excellent opportunity for an ATP (DOC/NIST) award.
  2. Is it practical with traditional media and heads to achieve a spacing of 30 nm? This is the most difficult technical problem limiting storage density. Novel materials work is required and should be a focus area for NSF.
  3. Does the industry have the resources to fund the development of new substrate materials? Probably not is the answer. An industry-wide materials research program supported by both the United States and Japan would have a major impact.
  4. Will the cost of new substrate materials prevent their widespread use? The substrate is a very large fraction of media cost. A factor of 10 higher cost for PA clearly has limited its application. Remembering that tape exists because of its relatively low cost, the industry faces a critical dilemma which may make it difficult to achieve the density target (Table 4.1) proposed by NSIC.

1 NSIC. The National Storage Industry Consortium (NSIC)'s Tape Technology Roadmap is available from NSIC, 9888 Carroll Center Road, Suite 115, San Diego, CA 92126-4580.

Published: June 1999; WTEC Hyper-Librarian