Data cartridges gain renewed respect; Compaq endorses SLR5
Following the recent endorsement by Compaq of its Single-channel Linear Recording (SLR) technology, Tandberg Data this month expects to begin production shipments of its high-end MLR3 (Multi-channel Linear Recording) tape drives. SLR and MLR are branded product lines that fall into the general category of quarter-inch data cartridge tape drives.
The most recent iteration of Tandberg`s SLR technology--SLR5--stores 4GB (8GB with compression) in a 5.25-inch form factor, with a native transfer rate of 380KBps. MLR3 packs 25GB (50GB compressed), with a native transfer rate of 2MBps. Cartridges are available from Imation and Sony.
Compaq`s endorsement was seen as providing a much-needed shot in the arm for the venerable data cartridge market. "Tandberg has been able to spark a major commitment and bring renewed life to a mature technology," says Bob Abraham, vice president at Freeman Associates, a storage market research firm in Santa Barbara, CA. As a result of Compaq`s endorsement, most analysts are revising upward their shipment estimates for data cartridges, a market that has been declining rapidly in recent years.
Compaq is bundling Tandberg`s SLR drives with its ProSignia 200 Small Business Servers, the first time Compaq has bundled tape drives with its servers. In addition, Compaq offers SLR drives as options on its ProSignia 200, ProLiant 800/850R/1200 servers, and Professional Workstation 5000 desktops. The estimated street price for the SLR5 drive through Compaq`s distribution channels is $505. In addition to Compaq, Sun Microsystems resells Tandberg`s SLR5 drives.
SLR and MLR are backward-compatible with quarter-inch cartridge (QIC) tape technologies.
SLR5 technology competes primarily with Travan NS8 and 4mm digital audio tape (DAT) in the small server market. MLR competes in the midrange server market mainly with Exabyte`s 8mm, Sony`s 8mm Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT), and Quantum`s Digital Linear Tape (DLT), particularly the DLT4000 version. Unlike helical-scan-based technologies such as DAT, 8mm, and AIT, SLR and MLR (as well as DLT) use linear recording techniques. Tandberg offers an MLR library that stores 160GB to 1.28TB.--DS