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Quantum leaps into new tape era

Adios M-series, hello rack and stack...

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Quantum is replacing its entire low and mid-range tape automation product range with a revamped autoloader and a new PX500 series of rack-mount libraries. The new devices will support both SDLT and LTO drives, and store from eight to 200 tape cartridges.

The PX500 series has three members so far: the one or two drive 4U PX502 with up to 38 slots, the 10U PX506 which runs to six drives and 100 slots, and the PX510 with up to 22 drives and 200 slots.

"This is a big new bet on tape for Quantum," said the company's Euro marketing director Henrik Hansen. "Above 100 slots is the biggest automation segment, revenue-wise. 200-slot libraries are growing ten to 12 per cent - that's where a lot of the value is coming from."

He added that a key advantage versus competitors is that the PX libraries can be stacked up to 40U high, and can exchange tapes with no need to buy a separate robot or stacking module.

"The units self-align via an IR link, then there's a lift between them," he said. "As well as combining units, you can also split them up if they need to be redeployed, and if one unit fails the others can continue to work independently."

The PX510 costs $24,995 before you add drives, and was actually announced back in May - that was as a spoiler against StorageTek's SL500 launch though, and the device has only just started shipping. The PX502 and 506 will be announced in the US next Monday; the 502 is priced from $10,990 with an LTO2 drive, and the 506 is $15,595 for the base unit plus $8,000 to $11,000 per drive.

Completing the new low end line-up at Quantum is the SuperLoader 3, which Hansen said has been cost-engineered to replaced both the existing SuperLoader and ValueLoader lines. Like the PX500, it will be available with SDLT-600, LTO2 or LTO3 drives.

Thanks to a range of changes - for example, the unit's baseplate is still metal, but it's pressed in one piece instead of having to be assembled from several bits - and Quantum's desire to push tape automation, the $8,000 list price of a SuperLoader with a half-height LTO2 drive is actually lower than the list price of a full-height standalone LTO3 drive.

The trade-off is that the half-height drive is slower; its lower capacity is rather counter-balanced by the LTO3 only taking one cartridge at a time instead of eight or 16, depending on how many magazines the LTO2 loader has.

Hansen says Quantum's current autoloaders and M-series libraries will stay on sale until at least mid-2006, but will then be completely replaced by the new models. ®

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