IBM Updates LTO Storage Gear
February 22, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM last week made several storage announcements involving LTO tape technology, including the launch of a new TS2900 tape autoloader, and enhancements to its existing TS3100 and TS3200 autoloaders.
The TS3100 and TS3200 are midrange LTO tape libraries designed to provide small and mid-size environments with hundreds of TB of unattended backup capacity. The libraries can be outfitted with a range of LTO drives that connect via SAS, Fibre Channel, or SCSI (although SCSI ceased to be a connection option with the latest LTO Gen 5 drives).
Last week IBM added support for several new half-height LTO drives with the libraries. Now supported in both the TS3100 and TS3200 are the half-height Fibre Channel Ultrium Gen 4 drive, and the half-height SAS Ultrium Gen 3 and Gen 4 drives. These new drives join the existing full-height LTO drives that support 6 GB SAS and 8 GB Fibre Channel connections. The new drive options become available in the libraries on March 11.
The TS3100 (which goes by the official IBM product name of System Storage TS3100 Tape Library Express Model L2U) can accommodate up to two half-height LTO drives, or use full-height LTO drives. Customers can mix and match the different vintages and types of drives; the only restriction is drive space, according to IBM. The TS3100 comes standard with two removable cartridge magazines, which support 12 LTO cartridges each. A single cartridge I/O station provides continuous operation while loading or ejecting cartridges.
Meanwhile, the TS3200 (whose Christian name is System Storage TS3200 Tape Library Express Model L4U) can accommodate up to four half-height LTO drives, or two full-height drives, and supports any mix. Four removable magazines provide support for up to 48 cartridges, while a three-slot I/O station allows the unit to keep writing or reading data while media is being changed.
Other features that are standard on both the TS3100 and TS3200 include a remote management capability and a barcode reader, which allows the device to function in sequential or random access mode. Major optional features include a rack mount kit, transparent LTO encryption, and path failover, additional drives, interposers, and power cords.
IBM included some pricing information with its LTO tape library announcement. The half-height Ultrium Gen 3 SAS drive costs $2,831. The half-height Ultrium Gen 4 SAS drive costs $3,710. And the half-height Ultrium Gen 4 Fibre Channel drive costs $4,256.
IBM also enhanced the TS2900, an entry-level LTO autoloader that exclusively uses half-height drives and occupies just 1U of space in an industry-standard rack.
With last week’s announcements, IBM has added support for half-height Ultrium Gen 5 SAS drives, giving it faster data transfer rates and greater storage capacities. Customers still have the option of ordering the TS2900 with older LTO generation 3 or 4 half-height SAS drives, which will cost a bit less than the $5,950 IBM is asking for the device loaded with the latest LTO gen 5 technology.
In addition to tape technology, the TS2900 gives the customer the choice of mounting the unit in an industry standard rack, or leaving it on a desk and using the optional desk-side cover. A customer can also order additional cartridge magazines to expand the capacity of the autoloader, which can be used in either sequential or random access mode.
Administrators manage the TS2900 through a Web-based interface, and a barcode reader is provided to identify cartridges. Customers who choose LTO 4 and 5 drives can apply encryption at the drive level. Write once, read many (WORM) is also supported on all three generations of LTO drives.