LTO Roadmap Extended To Gen 10
September 15, 2014 Alex Woodie
The companies that make up the Linear Tape Open consortium last week announced the ninth and tenth generations of the open standard. When the first drives based on LTO Gen 10 technology start shipping–ostensibly around the year 2020, if the historical release pace holds up–the drives will be able to write data at the rate of more than 1 GB per second and hold more than 120 TB on each cartridge.
The current LTO Gen 6 drives started hitting the market in late 2012, about 24 months after the LTO Gen 5 drives appeared. They offer a native capacity of 3.2 TB, and native data transfer rate of 210 MB per second. Those numbers go up when 2.5:1 compression is turned on.
We should start to see the new LTO Gen 7 drives by the end of 2015, according to the LTO group. Those new drives will offer a native capacity of 6.4 TB and a native data transfer rate of 315 MB per second, to go along with 2.5:1 compression. The LTO Gen 8 drives–which we could see by 2016, give or take–are slated to have a native capacity of 12.8 TB and a native data transfer rate of 472 MB per second, and 2.5:1 compression.
Last week, the LTO Program announced that it plans to keep that 2:5:1 compression rate with generations 9 and 10. With LTO Gen 9, native capacity increases to 26 TB and the speed increases to 708 MB per second. With LTO Gen 10, the native capacity will go up to 48 TB while the transfer rate increases to 1,100 MB per second, breaking the 1 GB per second barrier for the first time. On Gen 10 drives, data will be flowing nearly 6X faster than current Gen 6 gear.
Since it was first introduced more than 15 years ago, the Linear Tape Open standard has come to dominate the industry, displacing every other tape drive format, such as AIT and SDLT. IBM and Oracle (owner of the old StorageTek gear) offer high-speed proprietary tape drives for niche applications in HPC and financial services, where speed and capacity are of paramount importance. But for the masses, nothing beats the price/performance of LTO.
LTO “continues to set the standard for cost-optimized backup and long-term archive storage,” said Chris Powers, vice president of the data center development unit at Hewlett-Packard, which is one of three LTO Program founders, along with IBM and Quantum. “With the extension of the roadmap, organizations can expect advancements in capacity and efficiency that lower costs by reducing management overhead and provide the flexibility needed to scale for future growth.”
It is unclear exactly how the new LTO drives deliver the performance boosts, and what technologies the developers have in mind for the upcoming generations. Caching will obviously play an important role in delivering the big speedups in throughputs, but the LTO program is not sharing specifics at this time.
We will have to wait to a trio of shows this fall–IBC in Amsterdam, ASIS in Atlanta, Georgia, and Supercomputing in New Orleans, Louisiana–to find out the secrets behind the new technology. For now, we will just have to suffice with knowing the LTO roadmap extends out to 2020 and beyond.