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LTO bids to regain its pace

WORM and a spec for LTO-4 due this year

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Storage Expo With the first LTO-3 drives now appearing, the LTO Consortium says it will add WORM capabilities "soon" and has confirmed its plans for another three generations of the Ultrium tape format.

In a direct snub to Quantum's DLTice technology, which is already available and allows normal media to be WORMed and reused, LTO's upcoming WORM format will use a specially coloured and non-reusable cartridge.

"WORM is about keeping something safe, so to push on reuse is to miss the point," says David Rogers, tape products marketing manager at LTO provider HP.

"Plus, WORM is probably going to be kept for seven years and there's really not going to be a lot of value by then in reusing media. You could burn or degauss it, but not reuse it."

LTO-4 will offer both double the capacity and double the data transfer speed of LTO-3, says Bruce Master, IBM's senior tape programme manager and representative to LTO. He adds that there is no plan to copy Quantum in going for higher capacity at the expense of extra speed.

"We think a doubling of capacity is on the mark," he says. "Speed may not need to double because there are other bottlenecks in the data path, but it still needs to be robust."

He says that LTO still expects to average two years between generations, which puts LTO-4 in 2006. The specs for LTO-5 and 6 willl be out by the end of this year, keeping the same cartridge and data format but using new tape materials, he adds.

LTO has no formal 'value' range alongside Ultrium, as Quantum has with its DLT-S and DLT-V families. The official line is that it doesn't need to, because of the economies of scale it already gets from out-selling DLT.

In practice, Rogers acknowledges that it is happening by default, with HP and Certance introducing cost-reduced models, based on the generation behind the current one and often in half-height format. ®

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