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HP and Sony double team better storage tape format

DAT 320 gets fat

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Hewlett-Packard and Sony are putting their heads together again to make a denser breed of Digital Audio Tape drives and cassettes.

Even they worked together on the technology, both companies intend to roll out separate flavors of the new DAT 320 format in the first half of 2009.

DAT 320 will have backup speeds of up to 86GB per hour with 2:1 data compression. A single cartridge provides a maximum of 320GB capacity. That's roughly half the speed and twice the capacity of the one-year-old DAT 160.

Speed and capacity of the DAT 320 format will be the same for HP and Sony, according to Bob Conway, manager of tape marketing at HP. The differences will probably be in firmware — although the drives will be interchangeable between one another.

Conway expects the drive to sell for about $850, about the same as the DAT 160. A cartridge will cost approximately $36.

HP estimates the average tape customer uses six cartridges per drive. "That's solid data protection within reach of $1,200," said Conway. DAT 320 will also consume fewer watts per gigabyte than previous generations, and is backwards compatible with DAT 160.

Admittedly, a very dense coil of storage tape tends not to inflame the baser passions.

"Rather than being sexy, it still has a place because of the overall cost of ownership and reliability through the whole spectrum of data protection and backup needs," said Conway.

Indeed, tape lets the small business CEO stoppeth her wallet, and will not hearken the voice of the disk vendor, vend he never so wisely.

Or something roughly to that effect.

"Small businesses can't afford to have a very swish disk to disk to tape regiment," said Conway.

That's probably more to the point. ®

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