Quantum Stacks the Tape Deck

Company's backup tape drive technology rollout will compete with existing linear tape open drives

Businesses looking for backup tape drive technology thats bulkier and faster now have another option from which to choose. Quantum Corp., of Milpitas, Calif., this week will begin shipping its BRC Super DLT (digital linear tape) drives to companies that include Compaq Computer Corp. and Quantum ATL, which will integrate the devices into libraries and automation devices.

Super DLT is an advanced tape drive technology that competes with LTO (linear tape open) drives developed by a consortium comprising Hewlett-Packard Co., Seagate Technology Inc. and IBM.

Super DLT holds 110GB of uncompressed data and 220GB of compressed data. Its transfer rate is 11MB per second with native data and 22MB per second with compressed data.

Bob Simpson, sales director for Premier Storage Ltd., an Internet service provider based in London, said he was one of the first to bring DLT into the United Kingdom about 10 years ago, and it took years before IT managers were willing to try a new generation of tape technology. Simpson said he now believes European companies are more willing to try the new evolutions of tape as soon as they hit the market. "I think that generally people have faith in tape technology," he said. "[Super DLT] will have no problem whatsoever. And neither will LTO."

The cornerstone of the new Super DLT technology platform is the pioneering LGMR (Laser Guided Magnetic Recording) system. The application for recording on tape combines the attributes of optical and magnetic technologies to produce an advanced, scalable platform that allows Super DLT technology to extend to multiple generations with the potential for 1 terabyte of capacity, Quantum officials said.

LTO, which has been on the market for several months, has a capacity level of 100GB for native data and 200GB for compressed data. It has a transfer rate of 15MB per second with native data and 30MB per second with compressed data.

Quantum ATL, a unit of Quantums DLT and storage systems group, will support DLT, Super DLT and LTO tape drives in its new M1500 enterprise-class library, which was announced Feb. 21.

Quantum ATL officials said the library is the densest product available, giving IT managers the ability to put two drives and 20 cartridges into a single 1.75-inch-high unit.

Quantum ATL customer Phillips Petroleum Co. was interested in the M1500 primarily because of its scalability feature. The London-based company handles large amounts of seismic data that its geologists and geophysicists need to analyze to locate potential oil sites.

"The M1500 allowed us to buy a solution for our immediate storage needs and add capacity in an easy manner," said Conrad Marotta, an IT manager for the Unix support team at Phillips.

The device can scale up to 10 libraries in a standing rack with 20 drives and 200 cartridges. An independent module called StackLink integrates multiple units and can automatically move cartridges from one module to another within 3 seconds. One of its key features enables IT managers to remove a problematic cartridge and replace it without bringing the entire system down, according to Quantum ATL officials.