Certance, HP and IBM – the three technology provider companies (TPCs) for the LTO (Linear Tape-Open) Program – have announced an extension to the LTO Ultrium format roadmap to include generations 5 and 6. In addition, the LTO Program is also modifying performance with LTO Ultrium generation 4.

It is the first update in six years, since the original LTO technology roadmap was established in 1998.

A recent survey of 200 IT managers and storage administrators by the LTO Program found that capacity was more than twice as important to end users than performance. In fact, storage administrators revealed that doubling data transfer speeds would not meet their needs, and would require them to pay for performance they would not be able to use. (These findings match the views of Quantum by the way, who also own Certance.)

“To meet the explosive enterprise data storage growth, IT managers will demand that tape storage vendors double tape storage capacity in each new generation,” said Fara Yale, vice president of research, Gartner. “And while substantially increasing data transfer speed is a must to meeting ever-shrinking back-up windows, most companies won't require tape technology to double performance generation over generation.”

LTO-5 is planned to double physical storage capacity over generation 4, increasing to 3.2TB compressed (assuming a 2:1 compression), 1.6TB native. Transfer rates in generation 5 are planned to improve up to 360MB/sec compressed, 180MB/sec native.

LTO-6 is planned to double physical storage capacity over generation 5, increasing to 6.4TB compressed (3.2TB native). Transfer rates in generation 6 are planned to improve up to 540MB/sec compressed, 270MB/sec native.

Additional changes
With the updated roadmap, instead of data transfer speed ranges, such as 80-160 MB/sec compressed (assuming a 2:1 compression) as with LTO-3, the LTO Program will now publish the high end of the data transfer speed. For the third generation LTO Ultrium, the roadmap will now read “up to 160 MB/s” compressed (assuming a 2:1 compression). This change will help simplify how the LTO Program communicates its performance measurements.

(It will also provide bigger and more impressive numbers.)

The second change is in the maximum data transfer speed for LTO-4. The anticipated high end of the data transfer speed is up to 240 MB/sec compressed – the middle of the range from the original four-generation roadmap of 160-320 MB/s data transfer speed compressed.