The ROHS directive comes into force in the middle of next year. At that time all tape drives sold in the EU must comply with the directive. They must be free of lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and certain chemicals. Since lead is commonly used for solder that means substantial reworking by drive manufacturers.

In the tape world old generations rarely die; they just keep shipping in declining numbers. There are thousands of DDS, Travan and other superseded format drives still shipping in Europe. Their manufacturers have to decide whether the cost involved in making them ROHS-compliant is worth it.

This means Sony, Exabyte, HP, IBM, Quantum and Tandberg, possibly others. It also affects tape automation product suppliers who from then on will only be able to ship ROHS-compliant drives in the EU.

Chris Sopp, HP tape product market manager for HP in Europe, says that HP is carrying out a ROHS makeover of its drives. THe DAT-72 drive and the impending DAT-160 drives will be ROHS-compliant. He thinks Quantum will carry out a ROHS programme. Sony though, may decide to end-of-life its DDS drives and concentrate solely on AIT/S-AIT, that is, if those products survive the Stringer rationalisation programme.