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Trio touts LTO's one million milestone

LTO Ultrium tape has reached a major milestone.

More than 1 million of the tape cartridges have been shipped since it was introduced commercially a little over a year ago. Based on Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology, the format is supported by Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Seagate, among others.

And, while the number of cartridges shipped is indeed impressive and a good indicator in gauging the successful adoption of LTO in the midrange, it's also a good indicator that the sales of the industry is moving toward tape automation.

Bob Abraham, President of Ojai, Calif.-based analyst firm Freeman Reports, said one million cartridges shipped is a large number, but formats like LTO Ultrium and SDLT lend themselves toward automation and the industry is moving toward automation and automated tape libraries. Upshot: Autoloaders hold more cartridges, so there are more cartridges shipped. An autoloader holds between 8 and 16 cartridges at one time while a single drive holds one.

?There's a higher usage factor [in automation],? said Abraham. ?For every drive you sell, you're going to sell more cartridges.?

Another telling statistic is the number of LTO drives that have been shipped, but Abraham said those numbers will not be available from tape vendors until year?s end.

According to numbers released from Freeman Reports, the total shipment of LTO Ultrium drives will jump in 2001 as system and library vendors continue to adopt the technology.

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According to Freeman Reports, compact tape alternatives like SDLT, Ultrium, 8mm, DAT and QIC are attractive for some high capacity/high performance tape applications due to their rapid upward migration in capacity and performance, especially when bolstered by the use of automated tape libraries. Arrays of any of these drives significantly boost capacities and transfer rates, thus positioning them competitively against high-performance tape.

Brad Renfee, spokesperson for Seagate?s LTO said one of the strongest underlying features of the Ultrium tape format is the consistency of its product roadmap. "We're executing on our planned generation jumps and not dumping our roadmap on a quarterly basis."

The deliberate delivery schedule of LTO, the companies claim, gives users a stable product line to standardize and plan their future product buying decisions.

"We?re going to keep to our existing roadmap," said Hewlett-Packard spokesperson Stephen Holmes.

Holmes said the next generation of LTO will be announced later this month or in early December.

Generation two of LTO Ultrium tape will feature double the storage capacity as the first generation, with 200G Bytes and a transfer rate between 20 and 40MB/sec.

Ultrium has a four-generation roadmap that specifies a doubling of capacity and performance with each generation, combined with requirements for backwards compatibility.

The companies also announced Monday that the ECMA has adopted the LTO Ultrium format as a global industry standard for tape storage, a status which was also recently received by Quantum Corp.?s SuperDLTtape format.

The ECMA approval applies to the physical and magnetic characteristics of LTO Ultrium tape cartridges, using magnetic tape 12.65 mm wide, the companies said. ECMA said the approval certifies the quality of LTO Ultrium recorded signals, including the recording method and format that enables data interchange between Ultrium drives through the use of LTO Ultrium cartridges.

The Ultrium format supports variable length logical records, high-speed search, and the use of algorithmic data compression.

ECMA is an international industry association that contributes to worldwide standardization in information technology and telecommunications. ECMA has published more than 270 standards and 70 technical reports to date.

The LTO companies tout Ultrium as having a combination of the advantages of linear multi-channel, bi-directional formats with enhancements in servo technology, data compression, track layout, and error correction code.

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

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