Data protection specialist Quantum Corporation has revealed a roadmap for digital linear tape (DLT) over the next four years, promising to leave the linear tape open (LTO) format far behind in capacity.
George Kreigler, Quantum DLT Group senior vice president and general manager of drives, told vnunet.com: "There will be no more leapfrog [between DLT and LTO capacities]. SuperDLT [SDLT] is at 320GB today. Next summer this will rise to 600GB, with 1,200 by end of 2004."
Kreigler said this would the leave LTO format, favoured by IBM and Hewlett Packard (HP), far behind.
A further doubling to 2,400GB is already on Quantum's roadmap for 2006. LTO's maximum is currently about 200GB.
With the higher data density, data transfer rates are also expected rise, from the current maximum of 32Mbps - similar to LTO - to 200Mbps, by 2006.
IDC storage research specialist Zarah Damji said the projected capacities were impressive, but cautioned that a number of other factors would determine SDLT's success.
"One of these is how many systems the original equipment manufacturers back and who has got the technology on their portfolio," she said.
The three LTO co-founders - IBM, HP and Seagate - had a vested interest in pushing LTO. They also had agreements with Quantum for SDLT but take-up would depend on customers specifically requesting it, said Damji.
Kreigler thought at least one of these three would eventually drop out because of competition.
Damji said it was difficult to see what was happening with Seagate, a company with little visibility in Europe.
Quantum is not abandoning the lower-end DLT market, which it now refers to as 'Value DLT'.
Last year it acquired Benchmark to broaden its range and provide better service for existing users.
Kreigler accepted that there was price-pressure on margins but said the company had shipped 300,000 DLT drives in two years.
"It is a risk-averse economic climate so compatibility is an issue as customers want to protect investments. DLT is always backwards-compatible," he said.
By March, DLT capacity will double when the VS160 160GB drive begins shipping. This is due to double again in mid-2004 to 320GB, progressing to 600GB in early 2006.
Transfer rates will increase tenfold, from the current 6Mbps to 60Mbps.
This market could be more attractive for Quantum, said Damji. Here it will be competing more with Sony's AIT format, often used to migrate users of the low-cost but obsolescent DDS drives.
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