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Tapes and tape drives



[1] There are two kinds of secondary memory technologies: sequential and i random-access or direct-access. An example of the former is a strip of plastic, usually half an inch wide, coated on one side with metal oxide that can be magnetized. Tapes come in varying lengths of 250, 600, 1200, and 2400 feet and are usually kept off-line in libraries. When the 5 information stored on tape is needed, an operator mounts the tape onto a tape drive which has a fixed reeland an empty hub.The tape is then threaded through the machine in a way similar to that of threading a tape through a tape recorder.

[2] To mark the beginning and the end of a tape, small pieces of silver foil 10
or any other reflective strips called tape-marksare stuck onto the tape.
Information is then stored on the tape in magnetized units called bits
which are similar to the bits in internal memory. Vertically, they form
patterns such that every nine of them (eight bits of data plus a parity
bit, used for error detection) are called a frame.A group of these frames 15
forms a recordof information, which may be either long or short. These
records are separated from each other by marks called interrecord gaps,
and a group of such logical records forms a physical record known as a
block.Blocks, in turn, are organized as files,which are separated from
each other by special characters. 20

[3] How much information is stored on the tape depends on the length of the tape as well as its density.The density is determined by the number of bytes that can be stored on one inch of tape and is measured by bytes per inchor BPI.Some tapes store information at a density of 1600 BPI or even 6250 BPI, which means that at the latter density, 2400 feet of 25 tape would be needed to store approximately 175 million bytes of information.

[4] Tape drives record information lengthwise in channelsor tracks,with one bit per track. Newer models use nine tracks rather than seven as the older models did. In order to store information on a tape, a tape drive is 30 equipped with a set of recording heads, one head per track. One tape drive is distinguished from another by the transfer rateor transfer speed;in other words, by the number of bytes per second a tape drive is capable of transferring from the tape to the memory or vice versa. This


speed is usually measured by inches per second, or IPS. So, if a tape 35

drive has a transfer speed of 200 IPS, reading from a 6250 BPI density tape is like reading about 15,000 cards in one second!

[5] Tapes are obviously a faster medium than punched cards for accessing information; moreover, they require less space in the library. Because they can be mailed, they are a convenient way to transfer data from one 40 computer to another, or even from one city to another.





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