Magnetic Drum

A direct-access, or random-access, storage device. A magnetic drum, also referred to as drum, is a metal cylinder coated with magnetic iron-oxide material on which data and programs can be stored. Magnetic drums were once used as a primary storage device but have since been implemented as auxiliary storage devices.

The tracks on a magnetic drum are assigned to channels located around the circumference of the drum, forming adjacent circular bands that wind around the drum. A single drum can have up to 200 tracks. As the drum rotates at a speed of up to 3,000 rpm, the device’s read/write heads deposit magnetized spots on the drum during the write operation and sense these spots during a read operation. This action is similar to that of a magnetic tape or disk drive.

Unlike some disk packs, the magnetic drum cannot be physically removed. The drum is permanently mounted in the device. Magnetic drums are able to retrieve data at a quicker rate than tape or disk devices but are not able to store as much data as either of them.

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