Iomega Announces First RRD Product

Iomega designed the RRD drives to challenge tape drives in the SMB and workgroup backup space.

Iomega Corp. has announced that its first products using RRD technology will challenge tape drives for backup applications beginning in 2004.

On Thursday, Iomega said its first Removable Rigid Disk (RRD) drives will be branded as the Iomega REV and will feature 35GB of native storage capacity, or 90GB compressed. The drives will cost less than $400 when they launch in March 2004, the company said, and cartridges will be priced at about $49 apiece. The final pricing of both, however, will be announced at launch.

Iomega also said it will team up with German manufacturer BDT GmbH & Co. K.G., a manufacturer of auto-loader systems that store and retrieve archival media using robotic systems. The two companies will develop tape replacement autoloader products using the new RRD technology. The duo plans products ranging from 280GB, 5.25-inch single drive products through multi-drive 4U configurations supporting over 4TB of storage, said officials.

Iomega designed the RRD drives to challenge tape drives in the SMB and workgroup backup space, where the company says smaller tape drives have been used to back up corporate data. In addition, the RRD technology could be used for medical imaging and video archiving, where desktop users need access to large amounts of stored data.

"Basically, tape is the thing everybody loves to hate," said Lake Price, a product manager for Iomegas REV line. "Even though its not talked about, a lot of businesses, from single person businesses up through the enterprise, use it as a backup solution."

Iomegas RRD technology uses sealed cartridges, holding a 2.5-inch disk as well as a motor. Each 3.5-inch drive houses the read-write heads, protected by an airlock and filtration system to avoid contamination. The drive maintains data integrity through two-stage error-checking and periodic disk self-cleaning.

Iomega will have to convince IT managers to adopt a new platform, however, rather than their tried-and-true tape drives. Iomegas Price argued that the the companys new technology is inherently more reliable, as well as faster and cheaper. "We use standard hard drive technology in product, with some proprietary technology," he said. "We wrap that with our own (intellectual property) to bring the removeability aspect to you. Its very standard and ultimately more reliable than fragile tape media. Its also built to be more durable than tape is."

The drives will transfer data at a maximum rate of approximately 22MBps, Iomega said, or about three times faster than DDS tape. Iomegas RRD can also access random bits of data; tape must be read and written serially.

Japans Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. will manufacture the RRD cartridges, Iomega spokesman Chris Romoser said, and so far is the sole supplier. Fuji has worked with Iomega before, manufacturing the cartridges used by Iomegas Zip line.

In other Iomega news, the company announced an external hard drive that serves as a personal NAS drive. The Iomega Network Hard Drive, available in both 120GB and 250GB models, features both a 10/100-Mb Ethernet connection as well as a USB 2.0 port. The drives include a copy of Norton Ghost as well as Iomegas own backup utility.

The Iomega Network Hard Drive will be available in late December 2003, the company said. Estimated U.S. retail pricing is expected to be $299 for the 120GB model and $429 for the 250GB version.