IBM has introduced what it claims to be the highest-capacity and most powerful tape storage device in the world, the TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3592.

The company said that compared to the specifications of Storage Technology's recently announced T9840C tape drive, IBM's 3592 offers up to 650 percent more capacity and 33 percent greater speed, at a price that is about 16 percent lower. IBM's new storage product is targeted at customers who want the ability to use one tape drive to address both capacity and access-oriented applications.

"We've heard that customers are in a dichotomy: On one hand, they're being asked to do more with less, shrink infrastructure, consolidate and reduce their costs," said Bruce Masters, senior program manager for IBM Worldwide Tape Marketing. "And on the other hand... they're being asked to store more and more data for longer periods of time, to manage their backup and meet regulatory requirements, and to protect those critical assets."

Masters said the 3592 tape drive would help meet all of those needs. "It will also help customers who have been struggling with managing two types of tape applications - on one hand, they have a need for capacity-oriented applications (and a) very fast streaming sequential data rate. On the other hand they have a need...for very fast access to random files on a tape."

Customers who have had to use many different types of tape technology to handle that problem can now use just one tape drive because the 3592 has a very fast streaming sequential data rate and randomly locates files very quickly.

Masters said IBM plans to introduce WORM (write-once, read-many) media technology for the 3592 tape drive so that data on the cartridges can't be overwritten. That capability is of particular interest to customers who need to store large quantities of electronic records to meet new regulatory and internal audit requirements.

Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Data Mobility Group LLC in Nashua, N.H., said the 3592 has the highest performance and capacity of all the enterprise drives.