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Sun unfolds 1TB of tape

An archival milestone


Sun has introduced the world's first tape kit to hold one terabyte of raw data, the StorageTek T10000B.

Sun's new T10000B tape drive can read and write existing T10000A tape media and also reformat it at the new, higher density. A library of T10000A media can, in theory, now hold the same information as before but on half the number of tape cartridges.

The LTO-4 tape format holds 800GB of raw data while IBM's TS1120 format stores up to 500GB of raw data on its 3592 tape. IBM has a terabyte 3592 format on its roadmap and the forthcoming LTO-5 format will reach, it is expected, 1.6TB.

The new StorageTek drive transfers data at 120MB/sec, the same as the current T10000A, which holds only - only! - 500GB. Actually the T10000B moves the tape at a slower speed than the 'A' drive but, because it has two read/write heads, attains the same I/O bandwidth.

The slower tape movement speed is complemented by an enhanced tape mount process using five roller guides touching the edge of the tape and not its surface. Sun says the T10000B is specified to achieve 360 full file passes. The competing IBM TS1120 tape, Sun claims, guides the media while touching the surface and is only rated for 300 full file passes. Sun also says the IBM tape is 20 percent slower than its T10000 drives.

LTO-4 drives also transfer data at up to 120MB/sec. Sun offers optional T10000B Sport Cartridges that more than halve the time needed to access data, stating they have a 28msec average access time plus the tape load and thread time. As Sun has a separate access-optimized T9840D line, with mid-spool parking, it is now able to say the T10000B plus Sport Cartridge is a hybrid capacity and access-optimized tape.

Pressing its perceived advantage Sun points out that IBM's tape requires an external tape controller whereas its own T10000s integrate directly into mainframe environments.

Like the T10000A model, the 'B' has built-in encryption and a Write Once Read Many (WORM) mode.

The Sun StorageTek T10000B Fibre Channel Tape Drive starts at $37,000 and will be available this month. It's known that the Texas Advanced Computing Centre already has 48 T10000B drives installed.

Media is supplied by Imation.

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