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If you've been waiting for the next generation of LTO to arrive before upgrading your tape infrastructure, the wait is over. In the past couple of months, major drive and media manufacturers have all announced LTO-3 models. Furthermore, LTO-3 drives and media are available through the channel--always a sign of true availability.
Certance, recently acquired by Quantum, led the charge this fall with its CL 800 drive, which has a native capacity of 400MB, a data transfer rate of 68MB/sec and a list price of $5,899. Other LTO-3 drive manufacturers include IBM, with an Ultrium 3 version of its 3580 drive, and Hewlett-Packard. Media-wise, Fujifilm has LTO-3 media as do Imation, Maxell and TDK. Cartridges retail for around $125--approximately double LTO-2's average price of $68 in December, but only marginally more than SDLT 600's average of $107.
However, vendors' first attempts at LTO-3 are hardly the final word. The specification calls for write once, read many (WORM) functionality, but none of the drives are shipping with that feature so far. Fujifilm announced that its media passed WORM certification, but the cartridges aren't available yet.
This was first published in January 2005