Book review – Advanced Storage, requirements and capabilities by Mark and Linda Kempster (June 1997)

This white paper by Mark and Linda Kempster published by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) is a remarkable compilation of information on the state of the art in storage media.

Setting the scene, the Kempsters forecast that over the next decade or so, significant cost saving will be made by storing data digitally near line rather than on paper. This in turn will mean that storage volumes, which so far have been doubling every year, will probably accelerate to an increase of an order of magnitude every four years. This leads to an estimate of worldwide digital data stored in the year 2000 of around 600-1000 petabytes. On the demand side, datawarehousing technologies will allow users access to these huge data volumes, perhaps stored in multiple disparate libraries, managed by carefully designed metadata systems. The applicability and cost effectiveness of tape, robotics, optical media, magnetic hard disk and RAID systems are evaluated, and a chapter on "revolutionary storage media" explores the ultimate physico-chemical limits to data storage. While today's state of the art technologies allow storage densities of around 125 megabytes per square inch (MB/sq. in.) in the future ion-etching technologies will allow storage of around 400 GB/ (by the year 2002). The theoretical upper limit for this technology is estimated at around 1.4 TB/sq. in. – a whole 3D survey on a postage stamp! Read speeds are estimated at a healthy 2GB/sec – although this may prove to be a bit skimpy when refreshing the next century's true color Giga pixel 3D display. But do not get the impression that this is some kind of futurist report, all today's technology is rigorously examined and catalogued.

On-chip catalogue

From 4mm through 34xx, 8mm, Exabyte, 3590, DTF, QIC, VHS, DLT, optical and 19mm – and that's just the tape. Other media families (optical disk, magnetic hard disk and "revolutionary") are treated with equal thoroughness. New technologies of off-tape cataloguing are also described, with IBM supplying catalogues on diskette for the 3590, and Sony going one better with a catalogue on a chip outside the tape, and readable by the robotics. Estimates of the capabilities and anticipated availability of new media and formats are included, useful information for data managers planning a Petabyte data store. Well researched and clearly written this study includes useful World Wide Web references allowing the reader to track developments in this fast moving field. Do not look here however for any E&P specific information on the suitability of the different media, that you'll have to figure out for yourselves, but this book does give you the background for an informed decision. Advanced Storage – requirements and capabilities, 1997 AIIM, 70 pages. ISBN 0-89258-314-2 is published by AIIM. More information can be obtained from AIIM tel. (1) 301 587 8202, fax (1) 310 587 2711, email,

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This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 1997 Issue # 6.

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