New specifications for LTO6

With the improved compression ratio of 2.5 to 1 resulting from the larger compression history buffer planned for LTO6 and subsequent generations, this shows a significant improvement over LTO5 (at 6.25TB and up to 400 MB/sec for LTO6 v 3TB and up to 280 MB/sec for LTO5 – all compressed); actual compression ratios are data dependent, but what this means is that a 25% improvement may be expected over whatever compression is achieved with older generation LTO drives.

Less than two years ago the LTO Program introduced a new partitioning feature for LTO generation 5 tape drives that enabled the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) which provided simple drag-and-drop capabilities for reliable and cost-effective “linear” tape. The approach made locating and storing files simple and quick in a manner like using disk or a memory stick. It revolutionized large digital file tape management, delivering new applications for digital media storage across a broad array of industries.

This is the backdrop as the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) Program Technology Provider Companies, HP, IBM Corporation and Quantum Corporation, announced the finalization of details for the licensing by storage mechanism and media manufacturers of the LTO Ultrium format generation 6 specifications. With LTO-6 tape technology, the LTO Program offers high storage capacity, blazing fast transfer rates, easy-to-use functionality and steadfast reliability. The result: LTO tape is considered the focal point of long-term storage solutions in industries such as media and entertainment, medical, finance, distribution, federal and analytics.

“With this next generation of LTO technology, we see tape moving from just being included in the data center game plan into a starring role,” said George Crump, Senior Analyst with Storage Switzerland. ”LTO tape will have a significant density advantage, more capacity on a per form factor basis, ease of use with LTFS, and a significant throughput advantage on a per device basis.”

The recently-finalized LTO-6 specifications support tape cartridge storage capacity of 6.25TB*, more than twice the compressed capacity over the previous generation, and tape drive data transfer rates of up to 400MB* per second for over 1.4 terabytes of storage performance an hour per drive. As with previous generations, LTO-6 drives will provide backward compatibility with the ability to read and write LTO generation 5 cartridges and read LTO generation 4 cartridges, helping to preserve media investments and ease implementation.

In addition, the LTO Ultrium generation 6 format includes the partitioning functionality, enabling users to present a tape-based file system with the use of LTFS. With continued support for hardware-based encryption and WORM (Write-Once, Read-Many) functionality, LTO Ultrium generation 6 tape technology is designed to provide an optimal balance of performance, capacity, compatibility and cost control supporting a broad range of safe, secure and portable data storage options for backup and archive that are easy to use and address a vast majority of storage needs.

“As LTO tape evolves with greater capacity, speed and functionality, it will take on an even greater critical data protection role for an even wider array of applications,” said Sanjay Tripathi, Director and Business Line Executive, IBM Data Protection and Retention Systems. “The continued development of LTO technology and LTFS reflect our belief that a smarter approach to storage can help customers not only improve overall system performance and reliability, but reap greater returns on their investments.”

* Assuming a 2.5:1 compression achieved with larger compression history buffer available beginning with LTO generation 6 drives.

The LTO consortium has also released an updated roadmap, which can be found here:

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