IBM announced this week that tape storage is far from being on the verge of extinction and, to prove it, has updated one of its key tape library systems to enable customers to store exabytes of data at economical rates.

The upgraded IBM (NYSE: IBM) System Storage TS3500 Tape Library has a new, IBM-developed, mechanical shuttle technology that can tie together as many as 15 tape libraries, thus creating a single, high capacity library complex at a lower cost than competitors, according to company statements.

“[It’s the] industry’s first tape library system to provide over 2.7 exabytes of automated, low cost storage — enough to store nearly 3 times all the mobile data generated in the U.S. in 2010,” the statements said.

For comparison, 1,024 terabytes (TB) equal one petabyte (PB) and, 1024 PB equals one exabyte.

As more data is captured — particularly “big data” such as video and medical imaging — the demand for higher capacity and less expensive storage is skyrocketing, which is where tape come in.

In fact, IBM projects that the amount of data stored to tape is set to grow by six times between 2010 and 2015.

In addition to the new mechanical shuttle technology, the TS3500 is also being upgraded with IBM’s new TS1140 tape drives. The TS1140 is available in three capacity configurations ranging from 4 TB per drive, to 1.6 TB, and as small as 500 GB for fast data access, IBM’s statements said.

In other tape storage-related news, IBM officials also said that the company’s Linear Tape File System Library Edition (LTFS LE) will be available for select tape libraries. LTFS is designed to simplify access to and management of massive amounts of data.

“LTFS clients can now more efficiently index, search, retrieve and share data stored on Generation 5 LTO (Linear Tape Open) tape, an open tape storage format,” the company said.

The upgraded versions of the TS3500 are due to reach general availability in August, an IBM spokesperson said in an email to Pricing was not disclosed due to the wide range of possible configurations, the spokesperson added.

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