Benchmark Storage Innovations Autoloader Thinks Small

eWEEK Product Update: ValuSmart Tape 640 Blade has slim form factor and slen-der price

IT managers looking for a compact and affordable entry level DLT autoloader should consider Benchmark Storage Innovations Inc.s ValuSmart Tape 640 Blade.

The VS640 is the first tape autoloader eWEEK Labs has seen that stands at less than 2U (actual height: 3.34 inches). This slim, rack-mountable autoloader can hold up to eight digital linear tape cartridges and accommodates a maximum native storage capacity of 320GB (or 640GB with 2:1compression).

In addition to its slim form factor, the VS640s price is also trim, at less than $5,000. Comparable entry-level autoloaders in the sub-$5,000 price range are more bulky and arent rack-mountable.

However, although the VS640 offers attractive storage density in a space-saving chassis at a competitive price, it supports only the DLT IV tape format. IT managers planning to upgrade to next-generation tape formats such as SDLT or LTO should look elsewhere.

The VS640 is best suited for companies looking to migrate from stand-alone DLT backup devices to automation products. With its compact footprint, the VS640 is also a good choice for backing up rack-mount servers and storage appliances at sites with constrained server racks, such as data centers and service providers.

The VS640 has a wide SCSI-2 LVD interface and uses a Benchmark DLT VS80 half-height tape drive. The VS640 autoloader is designed for use with DLT1 media and has limited backward compatibility with older DLT media—it can read DLT 4000 media but cannot write to it. The VS640s DLT 4000 support does provide a migration path for tape devices with DLT 4000 to move up to DLT 1.

The eight DLT IV cartridges form a carousel around the center-mounted VS80 tape drive. During backup and restore operations, cartridges rotate around the tape drive and are inserted into the tape drive one at a time.

Benchmark has partnered with Hewlett-Packard and Tandberg Data to offer OEM versions of the VS640. HP will integrate the VS640 into its Surestore storage product line and will start shipping units this quarter. Tandbergs DLT VS Autoloader is available now.

E-mail eWEEK Technical Analyst Francis Chu