By Dave Simpson
March 29, 2010 – Hewlett-Packard today became the second major LTO tape drive manufacturer to deliver LTO-5 Ultrium drives, as well as LTO-5 libraries and (multi-sourced) media cartridges.
The announcement comes on the heels of Quantum's introduction earlier this month of LTO-5 Ultrium tape drives, autoloaders and cartridges. Other tape library vendors, such as Overland Storage and Spectra Logic, have also announced LTO-5 products, as have all of the LTO media manufacturers, including Fujifilm, Imation, Maxell, Quantum, TDK and Sony.
LTO tape cartridges have a native capacity of 1.5TB (3TB with 2:1 compression) and LTO-5 drives have a native transfer rate of up to 140MBps (280MBps in compressed mode, which translates into a backup rate of 1TB per hour). LTO-5 cartridge capacity is almost 2X the capacity of LTO-4's native 800GB.
As do LTO-4 tape drives, LTO-5 drives include built-in, hardware-based encryption. The drives are read- and write-compatible with LTO-4 tape media, but are only read-compatible with LTO-3 media. HP-branded cartridges are available in write-once or rewritable versions.
HP's LTO-5 drives are available with 6Gbps SAS interfaces (on standalone versions) or 8Gbps Fibre Channel interfaces (for library versions), and are available with HP StorageWorks MSL tape libraries.
With the LTO-5 drives, HP introduced a free software tool called TapeAssure, which monitors the status, performance (including backup reports), utilization and health (e.g., remaining head life) of the tape drives and media.
According to Simon Watkins, product marketing manager for tape at HP, the LTO-5 drives are "partitioning aware," although full partitioning functionality won't be available until June. (Partitioning, which is defined in the LTO-5 standard, is designed to enhance file control and space management, and to speed up searches.)
According to IDC, more than 3.3 million LTO drives have been shipped since the format was introduced. (The LTO format was jointly developed by HP, IBM and Quantum.)
And according to the Santa Clara Consulting Group, 6.6 million LTO tape cartridges were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2009, an 11% increase over Q3 2009. LTO-4 cartridges accounted for 44% of unit shipments (and 52% of revenues), while LTO-3 accounted for 38% of unit shipments (31% of revenues) and LTO-2 accounted for 16% of unit shipments (14% of revenues).