Cache-A, XenData, StorageDNA All On Board with Beefier Tape Format

LTO-6 arrived late in 2012, when manufacturers started shipping cartridges and drives that could use the new, higher capacity tape format. in the following weeks and months, vendors began supporting the updated format with new, LTO-6-tuned iterations of archiving appliances designed to make it easier for customers to offload content from expensive disk storage to more economical tape-based archives.

The new format bumps the capacity of a single tape cartridge by two-thirds, from 1.5 TB for LTO-5 to 2.5 TB for LTO-6. The uncompressed data-transfer rate has increased by about 14 percent, from 140 MB/sec to 160 MB/sec. If you work in the media industry, you should be aware that vendors often tend to overstate the capacities and bandwidth of LTO tapes because they assume customers will benefit from a compression factor of around 2.5:1 for data archived using the LTO format's built-in compression capabilities. However, content creators are often working with material that's already been highly compressed using very efficient algorithms, meaning any additional benefits they experience are likely to be quite small.

Generations of LTO Tape Formats
  LTO-4 LTO-5 LTO-6
Date 2007 2010 2012
Capacity 800 GB 1.5 TB 2.5 TB
Maximum Speed 120 MB/sec 140 MB/sec 160 MB/sec

Here's a status report from vendors of some commonly used hardware dedicated to helping media and entertainment customers get the best results from LTO-6 tape archives.

Cache-A. In early January, Cache-A released the Pro-Cache6 archive appliance, which increased onboard disk cache storage (RAID 0 or RAID 1) from 4 TB to 6 TB. The Power-Cache appliance now has disk cache (RAID 0 or RAID 5) of 12 TB, up from 8 TB. The new appliances will be on display at the HPA Technology Retreat demo room next week in Indian Wells, CA, at BVE in London later this month, and at NAB.

XenData. In mid-January, XenData announced immediate support for LTO-6 in its SX-10 and SX-500 archive appliances and servers. XenData will be showing turnkey LTO-6 archives at BVE in London later this month and at NAB.

StorageDNA. Last week, StorageDNA said its DNA Evolution archive system for Linux and Mac had been updated to support LTO-6. StorageDNA said the system's direct-connect transfer capability would help maximize the benefits of LTO-6's increased capacity and trasnfer speeds. New users can choose between LTO-5 and LTO-6, and existing users have LTO-6 as an upgrade option.

Picture, top: XenData SX-10 archive appliance with two LTO-6 drives.