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IBM ships high-density tape drives based on lastest spec

News Analysis
Sep 14, 20212 mins
Data CenterEnterprise Storage

IBM's linear tape-open 9 (LTO-9) Ultrium magnetic tape drive promises greater density, performance and resiliency.

It engineer inserts backup tape 167242245
Credit: Thinkstock

IBM announced the general availability of the industry’s first magnetic tapes and drives based on the LTO-9 Ultrium specification for massive data capacity and resilience.

The Linear Tape-Open (LTO) 9 spec features a 50% improvement in capacity over LTO-8, which translates to 18TB native capacity, or 45TB after data is compressed. Fujifilm and Sony announced media last month, but IBM is the first with a drive.

Previous LTO specs have featured 100% jumps in capacity, and the growth in LTO-9’s transfer speeds are fairly modest, too; increasing from LTO-8’s 750MB/sec to 1GB/sec for compressed data and from 360MB/sec to 440MB/sec for uncompressed data. It could be tape is reaching its limits.

However, IBM has a fix for that. The new drives also feature IBM’s new Open Recommended Access Order (oRAO), a data-retrieval accelerator that reduces seek time for applications to retrieve data from tapes. oRAO can be used with both compressed and uncompressed data, and IBM claims it can reduce those access times by 73%.

IBM is positioning tape as a solution for security concerns, particularly ransomware. The full-height IBM LTO-9 Tape Drive is designed to natively support data encryption, with core hardware encryption and decryption capabilities stored on the tape drive itself to reduce the risk of data corruption due to virus or sabotage.

IBM is also touting the cost benefits of tape, saying it costs $.0059/GB per month, or $5.89/TB. An LTO-9-based tape library can store up to 39PB of compressed data in a 10-square-foot tape library with LTO-9 Ultrium tape cartridges.

IBM has tape storage devices like its TS4500 Tape Library where all the tapes are stored in a chassis that looks a lot like a server rack. Tapes are retrieved and plugged in and out by a robotic arm. Because tapes are physically disconnected unless they are being accessed, IBM stresses that this physical “air-gap” is the best practice to ensure secure backup storage.

The LTO-9 tape drive is available Sept. 17.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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