LTO-4 products on the way

By Kevin Komiega

—New hardware based on the next-generation Linear Tape-Open (LTO) Ultrium format came one step closer to reality today with the news that licenses for LTO generation 4 (LTO-4) specifications are now available for storage device and media manufacturers.

Spokespeople for the LTO Program today announced continued support of their six-generation road map by doubling capacity, boosting performance, and adding encryption functionality to the popular midrange tape format.

LTO-4 will feature twice the capacity of the previous generation 3 (LTO-3) technology, increasing cartridge capacity to 800GB native, or 1.6TB with data compression. Transfer rates are also improved—;240MBps for LTO-4, compared to 160MBps for LTO-3. (Both transfer-rate specs assume 2:1 compression.)

"The native data rate of 120MBps translates to about 864GB per hour," says Bruce Master, senior program manager for IBM's Storage Products Division. "This will help users to better manage their backup windows, reduce space consumption in IT centers, enhance library utilization, and reduce the amount of tape handling by people and robotics."

However, the LTO-4 spec goes beyond "speeds and feeds" by incorporating support for more-advanced data-protection and security features.

Generation 4 will continue to support the write-once, read-many (WORM) functionality that debuted in LTO-3 products and now, for additional data protection, LTO-4 will support 256-bit AES encryption via hardware-based writing of encrypted data to the LTO-4 cartridges.

The LTO Program vendors (Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Quantum) expect LTO-4 products to hit the streets by mid-year. (Tandberg also manufactures LTO tape products.)

The LTO-4 specification provides for drives with backward read/write compatibility with LTO-3 cartridges, and backward-read compatibility with LTO-2 cartridges.

Several different license packages are available, ranging from enhanced packages that provide the specifications and licenses to manufacture Ultrium products, to basic packages that provide Ultrium format specifications and guidelines for interchangeability.

Storage and media manufacturers interested in licensing LTO technology can learn more by contacting the LTO Program through its Website: www.ultrium.com/contact.html.

This article was originally published on January 10, 2007