Imation has said it will be the first vendor to market with a line of multi-terabyte tape cartridges that can store up to 1.6TB of data in its native format or 3.2TB of data when it's compressed.

The Linear Tape Open, or LTO-5, format tapes offer double the 800GB capacity of the previous LTO-4 cartridge format.

Imation is the first company to license the Ultrium LTO-5 tape media.

"Imation is excited to announce this important industry milestone - the achievement of multiple terabytes of native capacity on a single MP tape cartridge," Subodh Kulkarni, vice president of Imation's Research, Development, and Engineering, said. "LTO-5 tape technology offers a cost-efficient way for businesses to store ever-expanding data."

LTO-5 offers a 160MB/s native data transfer rate and compressed data transfer rate of up to 360MB/s. Imation's Ultrium LTO-5 cartridges also use a technology called TeraAngstrom to create magnetic media with a smooth surface and a high signal-to-noise ratio for reduced errors and faster transfer rates.

Imation expects to launch LTO-5 tape cartridges in early 2010, saying it will include improved encryption capabilities for security of backup and archive data.