New tape specification debuts

The fourth-generation Linear Tape Open spec boosts security, performance and capacity

An industry organization today announced a new version of the ultra-compatible Linear Tape Open specification that adds encryption and offers greater performance and capacity than previous versions.

The LTO Program, led by HP, IBM and Quantum, launched the fourth-generation LTO specification, which vendors will implement in their tape drives and media in the first half of 2007.

LTO 4 is an interoperable tape specification that lets tapes written on HP drives be recovered on IBM gear, for example. The specification also ensures devices can read data from LTO 2 and LTO 3 tapes and write data to LTO 3 tape media.

LTO accounts for as much as 82% of the mid-range tape market, says research firm IDC. The specification was first introduced in 2000. A number of vendors including Maxell, Imation, TDK, Sony and Fujifilm manufacture LTO tape cartridges.

The LTO 4 specification adds AES 256 encryption at the drive level and enables faster performance than LTO 3. LTO 4 drives can operate at 120M bytes/sec; LTO 3 drives operate at 80M bytes/sec.

In addition the capacity of an LTO 4 cartridge is double that of an LTO 3 cartridge. LTO 4 supports 800GB uncompressed capacity -- which is equivalent to the contents of 300 DVD movies. For comparison purposes, the Library of Congress collections could fit on six LTO 4 cartridges.

LTO 4 also supports Write-Once, Read-Many capability, which was first introduced in LTO 3.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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