New 36 GB, 4mm Tape Drive Fills In the VXA Gap for i5 Servers
April 16, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In February, after trying to sell 8mm VXA tape drives for a while on the System i5 server line, IBM killed off the product. The move came in the wake of Tandberg Data‘s acquisition of Exabyte, the former being the supplier of quarter-inch cartridge (QIC) tape drives to Big Blue after it got out of that business years ago and the latter being the once high-flying innovator that brought Sony‘s 8mm video tape technology to the data center.
By killing off the VXA tape product, which is a low-cost, midrange performance product that sits above QIC drives but below more expensive LTO drives (which have a fair amount of capacity and performance and cost a lot, lot more), IBM left a hole in its product line. And last week, it filled that gap in with a 4mm tape drive for the i5 line.
The 36 GB, 4mm tape drive is known as feature 6528 when it is ordered with a System i5 515, 520, or 525 server, which it will fit within, and it is known as a 7206-336 or 7212-103 when ordered as an external drive for attachment to any i5 server through a SCSI cable. The feature 6258 drive uses 4mm tapes with 36 GB of capacity, and with compression (done in the tape unit, not by the system) that can be boosted to 72 GB. The tape drive is sometimes called a DAT72 drive, by the way, and it has a native data transfer rate of 3 MB/sec for uncompressed data, and twice that with compression on. IBM did not provide a price for this drive, somewhat mysteriously, but it has been available on the pSeries and System p line for some time. Storage maker GST sells a clone IBM unit for the System p line that costs $661, and IBM charges $900 for its own.
So, do I hear 2mm tape, anyone?