New tape formats are bigger, faster & safer


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Vendors are starting to use memory in cartridge (MIC) chips and RFID tags more frequently, but these technologies come with their own issues. Almost all super tape cartridges contain MIC chips, except the DLT/SDLT families. While MIC chips are used primarily by tape libraries to track the location and placement of tape cartridges, in the future MIC chips will be used by applications for data classification, data searching and retrieval. However, the use of MIC chips today is limited by the lack of standards that define what data they contain and how that data should be stored in the cartridge.

Another concern is possible damage to the MIC. Although the possibility of damage is low, MICs can potentially store information such as tape indexes, WORM data, user data-access permissions, barcodes and media partitions. If the chip fails or is accidentally destroyed, the loss of data about the contents of the tape cartridge could be very troublesome.

RFID tagging is another technology whose promise is still unfulfilled; only the StorageTek T10000 includes this technology in its cartridges. Widespread adoption of RFID tags attached to tape cartridges may be driven by tape-vaulting companies such as Iron Mountain Inc., which are beginning to use RFID to track the shipment of tapes to and from user sites.

Tape remains a viable medium for long-term data storage and archiving. Yet as tape capacities and data transfer rates grow, and interoperability

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with previous generations of tape isn't always a given, some users may find that the latest generation of faster and fatter tapes is overkill for their environments. Before jumping to the next generation, carefully consider whether you need MICs, WORM and the additional capacity. For some applications and environments the answer may be "Not now."

This was first published in May 2006

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