The widening gap between the amount of data the world produces and the capacity to store it is giving a new lease of life to the humble cassette tape.
"Although consumers have abandoned the audio cassette in favour of the ubiquitous iPod, organisations with large amounts of data, from patient records to capacity-hungry video archives, have continued to use tape as a cheap and secure storage medium.
Researchers at IBM are trying to keep this 60-year old technology relevant for at least the next decade and they are getting help from rising energy costs, which are forcing companies to look for cheaper alternatives to stacks of power-hungry hard drives.
Evangelos Eleftheriou and his colleagues at IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland, have developed a cassette just 10cm by 10cm by 2cm that can hold about 35 terabytes of data, the equivalent of a library with 400km of bookshelves.
"It is really the greenest storage technology," Eleftheriou told Reuters. "Tape at rest, consumes literally zero power."