Exabyte Launches LTO-2 Tape Autoloader

The company is releasing LTO-2 tape products, but denies that its VXA format's days are numbered.

With its acquisition by Tandberg Data slated for completion in early November, tape storage maker Exabyte is launching products based on the industry open-standard LTO-2 tape format.

Exabyte insists the launch does not suggest that its proprietary VXA-2 packetized tape format is heading for oblivion.

The $3,400 Exabyte StorageLoader LTO-2 (Linear Tape Open) 1x8 1U Tape Autoloader holds up to eight LTO-2 tapes in a 1U-high rack-mount form factor, yielding an aggregate compressed capacity of 3.2TB (400GB per tape).

Built around an LTO-2 half-height drive made by Tandberg, the units 1U height targets small and midsize businesses upgrading from stand-alone tape drives, a market sweet spot, according to analysts.

Migrating to LTO tape automation will boost throughput and capacity while simultaneously reducing the need for manual tape shuffling. Sporting an Ultra 160 SCSI/LVD connection, Exabyte claims a compressed data transfer rate of 48M bps.

"This does not mean that VXA is going away," said IDC analyst Robert Amatruda. "Even IBM offers several products based on VXA-2 technology that it OEMs from Exabyte. And tape products tend to have a very long lifecycle."

Exabyte officials said the key to Tandbergs acquisition of Exabyte is VXA. VXA, now in its second generation (VXA-2), is a fault tolerant technology that writes data to the tape as a series of small packets which can be read out of sequence and transparently re-assembled, very different from other technologies that write data as a single continuous stream which can become entirely useless if the tape is damaged.

Exabyte, based in Boulder, Colo., also announced that the LTO-2 Magnum Tape Drive used in the StorageLoader is available as a stand-alone device.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read how Exabyte is targeting SMBs. Click here to read more.

Internal and external versions are priced at $1,550 and $1,890, respectively. The drive is 50 percent faster than LTO-1 and up to eight times faster than competing DLT VS drives, according to Exabyte officials.

The LTO format was developed jointly by Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Seagate in the late 1990s. VXA was developed by Ecrix, a company acquired by Exabyte in 2001.

Tandberg, headquartered in Norway, announced its deal to acquire Exabyte in August 2006. An Oct. 10, 2006 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission places a proposed maximum aggregate value on the transaction at $28.5 million.

For the six months ending June 30, 2006, Exabyte had a loss from operations of $3.17 million on net revenue of $41 million.

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