StorageTek has revealed details of a mid-range tape library based on its StreamLine technology.
The flagship SL8500 will support 9840 and 9940 tapes plus (S)DLT from DEC/Quantum and LTO from Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Seagate, but the company said there are no plans to support Sony's SAIT.
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The library is formatted on a slot-by-slot basis with the robot "knowing" which format cartridge it is going to pick up and transfer to a drive.
"With the 9840/9940 it just picks up the cartridge and slams it into the drive; the tape is that robust. It handles LTO cartridges more gently. We've tailored the robotics for different formats," said Todd Rief, StorageTek director of operational strategy.
A SATA disc cache or buffer, known as Indigo, is likely to be integrated with it, offering virtual tape drives on disc. This will speed up backup times dramatically as they will take place at disc speeds rather than tape speeds.
The mid-range StreamLine will also support StorageTek's next-generation tape format. A four-generation roadmap has been confirmed with the first version - NGN1 - starting at 500GByte native capacity. It will be faster and hold more than the LTO3 format.
NGN2 will be a terabyte cartridge. Subsequent NGN generations will more than double capacity and data speed. NGN4 looks likely to achieve a 1Gbps transfer rate, hold 4TByte to 5TByte native and appear around 2010.
StorageTek is convinced that tape will remain the archive medium, citing floorspace and cost grounds.
Chris Mellor writes for Techworld.com