Ultrium Tape Drive Makers Ready LTO 6 Units
July 16, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Linear Tape Out (LTO) Consortium managed by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Quantum started selling LTO 6 licenses last June, and now the first tape drives based on the spec are about to hit the market.
According to a statement put out by the consortium, the first LTO 6 drives will hit the market in August, with the ability to store up to 6.25 TB of compressed data on a cartridge, double of the LTO 5 cartridge, with data transfer rates of up to 400 MB/sec on compressed data, a 42.9 per cent boost over LTO 5. If you want the uncompressed capacity and transfer rates for LTO 6 units, divide by two since the benchmarks assume 2:1 data compression (although depending on the nature of your data, you may do better or worse than this).
In the past 12 years, more than 4 million LTO drives have shipped worldwide. Back in 2008, there were 2.5 million units in the field, so the rate of installation is actually accelerating in recent years–something you wouldn’t expect with so-called antiquated tape technology. By the end of the second quarter, storage industry watcher Santa Clara Consulting Group is projecting that over 200 million LTO cartridges of various capacities would have been sold worldwide, with a total of 80 exabytes of data capacity–that’s 80,000 petabytes, or 80 million terabytes–all told. By the way, that is 100 million cartridges sold in the past four years, which is double the rate of sales in the prior eight years. And considering that cartridges are getting fatter and fatter, that is an explosive amount of data growth on tape.
Just as a reminder, back in 2008, the LTO 6 spec called for tapes with 6.4 TB of capacity and a data rate of 540 MB/sec. The LTO partners missed the capacity by a tiny bit and the data transfer rate by a larger margin. But, it is hard to project where a technology will be in any storage method. That’s pretty good, all things considered, and speed ups for CPU cores, memory chips, and disk drives have all but stopped, and tape is starting to slow down now, too. Moore’s Law doesn’t really fix speed problems any more, just capacity. And it is a big problem in all aspects of the IT racket.