Seagate, Imation breathe life into Travan drives

Seagate and Imation have breathed new life into a tape drive technology that many insiders claimed was long gone.

Despite rumblings in the industry that Travan tape drive technology would soon come to the end of its life cycle, Seagate Removable Storage Solutions and Imation Corp., jointly announced that the two companies would take Travan up a notch by increasing the capacities and performance of existing Travan drives.

Travan is a tape technology geared toward backing-up workstations and entry-level servers, and supports ATAPI/IDE, SCSI, FireWire and USB interface configurations on Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Unix operating systems.

Both Seagate and Imation now sell Travan drives with up to 20G Bytes of storage capacity and compressed data transfer rates of 120MB/min.

"It has been a few years since we announced any new Travan products," said Steve Dwyer product line manager for Imation. "We can't say what the speeds and feeds of the new generation will be, but we expect them to be in line with upcoming hard drive capacities."

Dwyer hinted that the new Travan drives might weigh in at 36G Bytes.

However, while both companies said they are committed to the technology, its future remains to be seen.

"This definitely puts renewed life into the technology," said Fara Yale, chief analyst, Gartner Dataquest. However, said Yale, the future of Travan is dependent upon the entry-level tape drive market's ability to sustain the technology and Imation and Seagate's willingness to invest in this technology beyond one more generation.

Seagate was quiet on the matter of Travan until it bought Overland Data Inc.'s Travan-based WS30 and EDT 40 tape drive designs earlier this month.

Seagate purchased all intellectual property related to the WS30 and EDT40 tape drive designs and has the option to acquire other assets required to manufacture the products. Overland will receive royalty payments based on sales of the resulting tape drive products and related tape media cartridges. In addition, the tape drives will utilize Overland's Variable Rate Randomizer (VR2) technology which will be embedded in an ASIC chip within the drives, and Seagate has entered into a supply agreement to purchase the VR2 chips from Overland.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

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