Linear Tape-Open (LTO) is an open-format tape storage technology developed by Hewlett-Packard (HP), International Business Machines (IBM), and Certance. Centance was acquired by Quantum in 2004. The term "open-format" means that users have access to multiple sources of storage media products that will be compatible. The high-capacity implementation of LTO technology is known as the LTO Ultrium format, or simply LTO Ultrium.
The LTO Ultrium technology has evolved through several generations.The latest of these is Generation 3, which became available in late 2004 and provides data storage capacity of up to 800 gigabytes (GB) and a maximum transfer rate of 80 to 160 megabytes per second (MB/s). Generation 4 provides a maximum storage capacity of 1.6 terabytes (TB) and a transfer rate of up to 240 MB/s. Generations 5, and 6 are currently under development. Generation 5 is expected to have a maximum storage capacity of 3.2 TB and a transfer rate of up to 360 MB/s. Generation 6 is expected to have a maximum storage capacity of 6.4 TB and a transfer rate of up to 540 MB/s. (All of these capacity and transfer speed figures are based on 2:1 data compression.)
Advancements in LTO technology have historically involved several factors, including the materials from which the tape is manufactured, the digital encoding and compression methods used, the physical speed with which the tape moves through the drive, the length of the tape in each cartridge, and the physical density of data bits on the tape.