Obscure startup plans 10,000 TB cartridges with 'cheap' material used in restrooms

(Update: A further presentation from Cerabyte states that it plans to reach sub-$1 per Terabyte prices by 2030 for the cost of the media with the technology enabling a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 99%. The CEO of Cerabyte reached out to us to confirm that the first generation will be racks rather than cartridges)

Looking to store your 16K video footage on something sturdy? Here’s a candidate. Cerabyte, a data storage company based in Munich, Germany, has published an excerpt of a presentation that its CEO and co-founder, Christian Pflaum, will show at the upcoming 2023 Storage Developer Conference in California.

As alluded by its name, Cerabyte uses a special type of ceramics arranged in layers as little as 50 atoms thick in sheets up to 300µm thick. Using a laser or particle beam, they will be able write and read data at GBps speeds with the media capable of supporting TB/cm^2 areal densities.

In comparison, current hard disk drives reach only 0.02TB/cm^2 with future models - likely to be launched towards the end of the decade - reaching about 0.1TB/cm^2; Tape - as used in LTO cartridges - tops 0.006TB//cm^2 (or 317Gb/in^2).

The first generation racks are expected to be launched in 2025 with an initial capacity of 10PB (that 10,000TB) rising to 100PB by the end of the decade. Beyond this, Cerabyte plans to introduce a 1EB (that one billion Gigabytes) CeraTape racks, which it says, will take the shape of 5µm-thick ribbons coated with a 10nm thick ceramic coating.

Extreme offering

Pflaum mentions that the data will be accessible within seconds, making it the perfect candidate for cold storage, lifetime cloud storage and unlimited cloud storage. Read/write speeds however remain problematic; 1GB/s transfer speed equates to only 3.6TB per hour which means that you will need more than 110 days to fill a single rack.

While there is an appetite for such a product amongst consumers, Cerabyte will sell them primarily to hyperscalers, enterprises and data center operators with a total addressable market expected to reach 500 billion dollars by 2030, a six-fold increase compared to 2023. The startup promises TCO reduction of up to 75% thanks to zero power consumption at rest and extremely high volumetric data density.

Ceramics are hard wearing which means that they can be used under extreme conditions, think low/high temperatures. We don’t know whether it will come with a separate drive or if the reading/writing mechanism and the media will be integrated for better performance.

Another unknown is the price although Cerabyte says its flagship product will be a low-cost solution. LTO-8 tapes cost around $4 per TB and if Cerabyte matches that, its 10PB storage cartridge rack should fetch a cool $40,000, a bargain for those in the know.

(via Blocksandfiles

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Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.