IBM Introduces New LTO 3 Drives and Libraries
by Alex Woodie
IBM unveiled an array of new LTO 3 gear last week, following the delivery of the first LTO 3 drive late last year. To ship on March 4 are several new LTO 3 drives, two 3581 autoloaders, the 3584 library, and various LTO 3 media. IBM also made a statement of direction concerning its support for write once, read many (WORM) capability on LTO 3, which is important for regulatory compliance initiatives.
IBM made its initial LTO 3 announcement back in November, when the first drives based on the LTO 3 specification started shipping (see "LTO 3 Tape Makes Its Way to Market"). All LTO 3 Ultrium drives offer fairly comparable raw performance compared with second generation Ultrium drives, including the doubling of data transfer rates to 80 Mbps (uncompressed) and the doubling of storage capacity to 400 GB native, or 800 GB compressed. While LTO drives must abide by certain agreed-upon standards to maintain media compatibility, each manufacturer is free to develop its own electronic mechanisms and microcode to its liking. This is where IBM claims to have an advantage, with features that bare such names as the patented surface control guiding mechanism, digital speed matching, adaptive read equalization, and dynamic amplitude asymmetry compensation. For this reason, you pay a little more for IBM's LTO gear.
Leading off is the new IBM TotalStorage 3580 tape drive Model L3H, which features SCSI Ultra160 Low Voltage Differential (LVD) connectivity to a range of servers, including OS/400 (V5R2 and i5/OS), Unix, Linux, Windows, and mainframe. IBM says it will start shipping this drive on March 4, with a price tag of $5,999. The 3580 Model L3H is the second LTO 3 drive from IBM. In December, IBM introduced its first LTO 3 tape drive, the TotalStorage 3580 Model L33, which also features a SCSI Ultra160 LVD interface, and costs $6,500.
IBM also introduced two new entry-level 3581 Tape Autoloaders, Models L38 and F38, both of which offer one LTO Ultrium 3 Tape Drive and eight cartridge slots, giving them a total capacity of 6.4 TB, with 2:1 compression, or 3.2 TB native. The Model L38 costs $9,200 and comes with a SCSI Ultra160 LVD attachment for connection to OS/400, i5/OS, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, Windows, and Linux. The Model F38 costs $12,780 and comes with a native switched fabric 2 Gbps Fibre Channel attachment, for connections to the same systems supported by the L38. Both models are available in stand-alone or rack-mounted versions.
For capacity requirements greater than 6.4 TB, IBM recommends users look to the company's new 3582 Tape Library L23, which it also announced last week. The 3582 features one or two LTO 3 and/or LTO 2 drives (with either LVD SCSI or Fibre Channel connections), and supports up to 24 cartridge slots, which gives it a native capacity of 9.6 TB, or 19.2 TB compressed. The 3582 features multipath support, which enables the library to be partitioned into two logical libraries, each with its own separate and distinct drives, storage slots, and control paths. It also features control path failover for enhanced availability. Data path failover and load balancing options aren't available for the iSeries. Pricing was not provided.
For larger storage requirements, IBM offers the 3583 library, which supports up to six LTO drives, and up to 72 cartridge slots. IBM announced last week that its 3583 Model L18, L36, and L72 can use the new LTO 3 tape drives, as well as the new Data Path failover. Like the smaller 3582, users can mix and match LTO 2 and LTO 3 medium, and they have the option of LVD SCSI or Fibre Channel Connectivity.
For capacity requirements greater than 57.6 TB (compressed), IBM recommends users consider the TotalStorage 3584 Tape Library. Up to 12 drives can be installed in each 3584 "frame," and up to 16 frames can be linked together in a single library, giving the library a capacity of up to 192 tape drives and 6,887 cartridge slots. The 3584 libraries can also be loaded with the quicker, and more expensive, TotalStorage 3592 "Magstar" drives.
IBM has introduced a new Fibre Channel version of its LTO 3 drive, called the TotalStorage 3588 Ultrium Tape Drive Model F3A, which is designed specifically for the large 3584 library cabinets, including models L52, D52, L32, and D32. The new 3588 Model F3A drive features a 2 Gbps Fibre Channel interface and will be available on March 4 for $22,800 each.
IBM also introduced the new 3584 High Availability Frame Model HA1, which provides fail-over protection by adding a redundant set of tape accessors for a series of active frames in a 3584 library. The HA1 model, which costs $30,000, is delivered in conjunction with service bay features on the 3584 Models D22 and D52, and provides for the installation of a second library accessor for improving the 3584's library availability and cartridge mount performance, IBM says.
Finally, IBM announced its new 400 GB LTO 3 media, the TotalStorage 3589 Ultrium Tape Cartridge. IBM is offering two models of LTO 3 media. The Model 008 is labeled with starting volume serial information and is optionally packed in individual jewel cases. The Model 009 comes packed in individual jewel cases with two non-attached blank labels. These cartridges will work in any of IBM's LTO 3 drives, autoloaders, and libraries. The Model 008 costs $3,600 in packs of 20, giving it a per-unit cost of $180, while the Model 009 costs $3,580 for a pack of 20.