LTO-6 tape is the economical choice for data archives, according to the LTO Program, a tape storage collaboration between Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM and Quantum.

The Linear Tape-Open (LTO) standard has proven popular, although TDK’s exit from the market has opened a new battlefront in the format war between LTO and enterprise tape. Nonetheless, the LTO Program is touting its format’s latest feat.

The price of LTO-6 has fallen below one cent to $0.008 per gigabyte (GB), or roughly $8 per terabyte (TB). Caveats abound, however. A pricing survey conducted by the group found that the typical LTO-6 cartridge costs approximately $50.50. Also, the company’s calculations assume the use of a cartridge’s compressed capacity.

LTO-6 tapes support a compressed capacity of up to 6.25 TB. Compatible tape drives can transfer data at a rate of up to 400 MB per second for a total of over 1.4 TB per hour.

Nonetheless, plummeting costs position the technology as a suitable archival storage medium, according to Quantum’s Rob Clark, senior vice president of the tape storage provider.

“As the price per gigabyte for tape storage continues to drop, LTO plays an increasingly vital role in the datacenter for a range of unique datasets and stages in the data lifecycle,” said Clark in a statement. “LTO allows organizations to keep more data for longer periods of time by storing the right data at the right time on the most cost-effective storage tier.”

Disk-based archival solutions just can’t compete in terms of budget friendliness, according to The Clipper Group, an IT analyst firm.

“The cost of energy alone for the average disk-based solution exceeds the entire total cost of ownership for the average tape-based solution,” said David Reine, a senior analyst at The Clipper Group, in prepared remarks. His firm discovered that the total cost of ownership of a disk-based system is 26 times that of a tape solution.

Citing The Clipper Group’s nine-year study, the LTO Program noted in a blog post that during that time, the average tape solution would incur costs totaling $47,000 compared to $4.9 million for disk in energy expenses alone. “That’s about 105 times more for energy than the tape system! On top of all of this, the disk system required about four times the floor space of the tape system,” observed the tape alliance.