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Exabyte slashes media costs

Hopes to cut losses through cheaper tapes

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Storage Expo Tape drive pioneer Exabyte reckons it has worked out why it doesn't have much market share anymore - its media was too expensive.

That's a bit of a bummer for media company Imation, which last year paid $20m for five per cent of Exabyte Corp and the exclusive rights to distribute Exabyte media. However, Exabyte's European MD Brian Stanley says it wasn't Imation's fault: "Two other vendors make the media for us, but the cost of having it made was too high," he says. "So we rejigged the media specifications to take cost out."

The result is VXA X Tape, which Stanley claims will be 30 to 40 per cent cheaper than previous VXA media, yet will provide the same capacity and even greater reliability.

Exabyte has three VXA formats, offering uncompressed capacities 20, 40 and 80GB per cartridge respectively. All use its proprietary packet data format, as will its upcoming 160GB VXA-3 drives. This includes a lot of error correction data which reduces the tape's formatted capacity, but it allows data retrieval even from severely maltreated tapes, the company claims.

Brian Stanley trumpets OEM deals with IBM, Fujitsu Siemens and others as proof that VXA has a strong future, despite Exabyte's continued unprofitability. He says its increasing focus on its OEM business is helping to turn the company around.

"Our target is the DDS market," he says. "Are we going to go through the roof? No. Are we going to make profits? Yes."

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