I’m reasonably convinced that tape backups and cockroaches will survive environmental collapse.
Think of each bit as a rectangular magnetic region. On IBM’s latest commercially available tape, each bit measures 1,347 by 50 nanometers. (Hard disk bits are 47 by 13 nm.) In the new demo system, the researchers shrunk the data bits to 103 by 31 nm. The drastically narrower bits allow more than 20 times as many data tracks to fit in the same width of tape.
To accommodate such tiny data elements, the IBM team decreased the width of the tape reader to 48 nm and added a thin layer of a highly magnetized material inside the writer, yielding a stronger, sharper magnetic field. Sony also added an ultrathin lubricant layer on the tape surface because the thinner tape comes in closer contact with the read/write heads, causing more friction.
Thats a huge improvement in size but they also improved the speed of tape operation:
Together, these advances allow the read/write head to follow a data track to within 6.5-nm accuracy. This happens even as the tape flies by at speeds as high as 4 meters per second (a feat akin to flying an airplane precisely along a yellow line in the road).
Hardware always matters, it just happens a lot more slowly than software.
Three Advances Make Magnetic Tape More Than a Memory – IEEE Spectrum : https://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/three-advances-make-magnetic-tape-more-than-a-memory