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Tape

Although it has been around for almost half a century, tape is still the most cost-effective method for storing and retrieving data. It offers the capacity, reliability, and speed necessary for storing and protecting the increasing amount of data generated by businesses.

As the removable storage type, tape has continued to evolve through the years, and it is still the hands-down leader in the cost-for-capacity category. This fact has created an ever growing need for larger and higher-performance tape drives and automation subsystems. To effectively select a tape technology in today's crowded tape marketplace, it is important for end users to understand the underlying technology and some of the history of tape.

Currently there are three leading open tape technologies: IBM/HP/Seagate LTO, Quantum DLT and SDLT, Sony AIT/SAIT. These three tape drive technologies employ distinctly different recording formats and exhibit different performance characteristics. Therefore, investing in one of these popular technologies calls for a complete understanding of their respective strengths and weaknesses.

 

1. LTO - Linear Tape Open

Linear Tape Open technology is a family of open tape standards developed in a joint venture by Hewlett Packard (HP), IBM, and Seagate. That group created LTO technology in 1998 as an effort to provide more choices to users in the midst of the present complex array of storage options.

LTO is an open format technology, which means that users have multiple sources of product and media. Also, because they license manufacturing to other vendors, LTO enables compatibility between different vendors offerings. LTO technology is currently announced in fifth generation and will continue to evolve with its Roadmap.

 

2. DLT - Digital Linear Tape

Quantum Corporation originally purchased Digital Linear Tape (DLT) technology from Digital Equipment Corporation in 1994, and Quantum is now the primary manufacturer of DLT drives.

In 1998, Quantum licensed the right to manufacture DLT drives to Tandberg Data. The early product line included the DLT 2000, 4000, 7000, and 8000 products. Also in 1999, Quantum announced the next generation of DLT technology, called Super DLT. The first Super DLT product began production shipments in early 2001. DLT made a promise of backward compatibility for previous DLT users, but initial Super DLT shipments were not backward compatible. Following the strong Roadmap, Quantum has continued to evolve new generation of SDLT and the latest version SDLT600 has been announced Feb. 2004

 

 3. AIT - Advanced Intelligent Tape

Sony began producing the Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) drive in 1996. Sony's AIT drives and media have been designed and manufactured entirely by Sony.

Although the 8 mm helical scan recording method is used, the AIT recording format was specifically designed for computer applications and is incompatible with the early 8mm drives from Exabyte. The AIT-1 drive was the first generation of a technology family positioned to double capacity and transfer rates every two years. Since its introduction, three new AIT products have been released: an extended-length tape for the AIT-1 drive, the AIT-2 drive, and the new AIT-3 drive, which has lived up to the AIT promise of doubling capacity and transfer rates. Sony also currently announced SAIT format separately with AIT Roadmap for high-capacity backup with its SAIT-1 format, 500GB native capacity.

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