LTO Finds Its Mojo, Extends Roadmap Out to Gen 8
April 20, 2010 Alex Woodie
The consortium of companies behind the LTO tape specification released its roadmap for the next three generations last week. After hitting a performance wall with LTO Generation 5, the final specifications for which were released earlier this year, the next three generations of LTO tape technology will–if everything goes as planned–offer the same level of performance increases from generation to generation that customers had come to expect with the first four LTO releases.
According to the Ultrium LTO Program, the next three generations of LTO Ultrium tape will offer these performance characteristics:
This compares with the current LTO Gen 5 spec, which was unveiled in January. LTO Gen 5 tape drives supports 1.5 TB of uncompressed data on a single cartridge, and offers a native data transfer rate of 140 MBps.
While the capacity of the LTO Gen 5 cartridges was about double the previous generation, the data transfer rate was a paltry 17 percent improvement over LTO Gen 4 gear. The LTO consortium had been advertising 180 MBps (which would have been the expected 50 percent improvement), but failed to deliver. LTO Gen 5 gear is starting to become available on the market this spring.
With last week’s release of the LTO roadmap, the LTO consortium is again promising customers a 100 percent increase in capacity and a 50 percent improvement in speed with each of the next three generations. Whether the consortium can actually hit these milestones is still to be decided.
Besides speed and capacity improvements, new generations of LTO tape are expected to offer a 25 percent improvement in compression levels. LTO Gen 6 through Gen 8 will support up to 2.5-to-1 compression, compared to the 2-to-1 compression that the first five generation of LTO drives have supported. The additional compression was obtained by increasing the size of the compression history buffer, the consortium said.
With 2.5x compression, organizations will be able to store up to 32 TB of compressed data on a single LTO Gen 8 tape cartridge, compared to a maximum of 3 TB of compressed data on the current LTO Gen 5 gear that is just hitting the market.
The updated LTO roadmap did not provide a timeline for the delivery of LTO Gen 6, Gen 7, and Gen 8 specifications. However, a spokesperson did indicate they may be expected to occur at the same interval as previous releases, which is every 24 months.
For more information, see the LTO Ultrium consortium’s Web site at www.ultrium.com.