Sometimes change can lead to confusion, or at least to a lot of questions. Take changes in the tax laws for example. I won’t get into details, but suffice it to say I feel sorry for tax preparers come 2019!
In the realm of tape storage, we too have had some changes to the traditional roll-out of next-generation LTO tape drives and media. But rather than focus on confusing change, let’s focus on the luxury of having options. That’s exactly what we have in the option offered with the introduction of LTO-8 drives that can use standard LTO-8, LTO-7, or… LTO-7 Type M tape cartridges.
For the first time in the history of LTO technology dating back to 2000, users can now write to the previous generation tape cartridge at a higher density than previously allowed. Specifically, LTO gen 8 drive users can choose the option to write 9.0 TB native at 300 MB per second on a new/unused LTO-7 tape that previously maxed out at 6.0 TB native on LTO-7 drives. Assuming 2.5:1 data compression, 22.5 TB can be stored on a LTO-7 Type M cartridge with transfer speeds up to 750 MB per second. That’s a lot of capacity… and really fast!
Beyond extra capacity, LTO-7 Type M is a good option economically speaking, since there is no price difference between standard LTO-7 media already in the market and LTO-7 Type M media. This means LTO-7 Type M is 33% less on a cost per TB basis than LTO-7 and 45% less than LTO-8 media at current internet reseller prices.
Taking advantage of the LTO-7 Type M option is easy. First, make sure your tape library is equipped with LTO-8 drives and is upgraded to initialize LTO-7 Type M media for 9.0 TB capacity. If necessary, contact your library vendor to confirm this detail or to enable it. For your library to distinguish standard LTO-7 from Type M, you need to use “M8” designated barcode labels as opposed to “L7” designated barcode labels. To verify, you will see the characters“M8” printed to the right of the volser number on the barcode label where you would normally see “L7”.
Finally, like a good drug commercial, there are a few disclaimers to be aware of, but in this case the side-effects don’t sound worse than the disease known as: exponential data growth coupled with shrinking budgets. So here we go:
- LTO-7 Type M can’t be initialized in standalone LTO-8 drives, library system required. But once initialized by the library, the Type M tape can be used in a standalone LTO-8 drive (read/write)
- Once initialized for 9.0 TB, the Type M cartridge will not be compatible with LTO-7 drives
- Type M cartidges will not be read/write compatible with LTO-9 drives
It’s always nice to have the luxury of options especially if that means be able to handle a lot more data at a super attractive price!