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Drive FAQs: AIT Drives | LTO Drives | SDLT Drives | DLT Drives | LTO 2 VS SDLT 320 | Drive Technology Comparison

9 TO 5 COMPUTER: Global Value-Added Distribution of NEW, used and refurbished computer periphery by a family-owned and operated company since 1979- distributing internationally computer related peripherals on the new, used and refurbished levels. HP, COMPAQ, IBM, CISCO, 3COM, SUN, APPLE, SEAGATE, and other major branded products as well as a MAJOR focus on Mass Storage related drives, media, storage racks, tri-optic barcode labels, libraries, autoloaders, duplicators, jukeboxes, HBA's, JBOD, Raid, SAN, NAS and software solutions.

As our stock of NEW, used and refurbished storage equipment changes daily, be sure to use our online chat service to get "real time" pricing from a knowlegable sales technician. We also offer the lowest priced storage media on the net. Contact us now for drive rental, repair, duplication, software solutions or professional consultation.

Refurbished tape drive | Tape drive repair | Tape drive rental

AIT1 | AIT2 | AIT3 | AIT4 | DDS2 | DDS4 | DDS-DAT | DLT | DLT1 | LTO1 | LTO2 | LTO3 | SAIT | SDLT220 | SDLT320 | SDLT600







9, 18, 36, 128, 256 TRACK TAPE DRIVE





9840 AND 9940 TAPE DRIVE




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The holy wars between linear- and helical-scan tape technologies were reduced to mild skirmishes. Vendors such as Exabyte Corp. and Tandberg Data just weren't able to market a drive technology that offered a feature set comparable with DLT at a similar price point. Under the radar of many IT administrators, recent tape technologies have loosened DLT's grip. Although DLT continues to be an excellent option for tape backup, we urge IT admins interested in storage backup to look at what else the tape market has to offer. Whether as a solution for the workgroup or an enterprise backup automation rollout, a number of viable drive technology options need to be considered. Although high-end mainframe-class backup solutions are available on the market, we focus our attention on technologies appropriate for workgroups, departments and medium- to-large enterprises.
Tape technology is broken into two major categories: helical tape and linear tape. The former touts higher density and performance, while the latter promises increased reliability. The main difference between the two is that a helical-scan drive pulls the tape out of the cartridge and, using a series of tensioners, wraps the tape around a rotating drum that contains the heads. Linear scan uses stationary heads and a less complex tape-threading method. The stationary heads of the linear tape technology are what theoretically give linear-tape drives superior reliability.

The other difference is the way data is written to the tape. Linear scan writes data from front to back in a serpentine method. That is, when the head reaches the end of the tape, it drops down a row and switches direction. Helical scan writes data diagonally across the entire tape--simultaneously using multiple heads. Concerns about the tape stretching or snapping due to drum rotation speeds upward of 7,000 rpm and high tension conditions have been quelled by the success and reliability of solutions such as the Sony AIT-2 drive. Aided by DLT, linear-scan drives have been winning the race with proven market success.

Enterprise Tape Drives

Quantum DLT 8000

It seems fitting that we first examine what is known as the "king of the tape market," the DLT. As the name implies, the DLT is a linear- tape technology. The new DLT 8000 supersedes the popular DLT 7000 and the aging DLT 4000. Although the DLT 8000 is a new drive, it features only modest improvements over the DLT 7000. With a native capacity of 40 GB, up from 35 GB, and a native transfer rate of 6 MBps, up from 5 MBps, the DLT 8000 isn't exactly breaking new ground. Those numbers double, however, when we take into consideration the theoretical 2:1 hardware compression ratio performed by the drive.

Performance doesn't tell the whole story. The DLT 8000 was designed for heavy use in the enterprise to back up mission-critical data automatically. With such importance put on data integrity, Quantum Corp. has beefed up the DLT 8000's reliability. With an increased MTBF (mean time between failure) of 250,000 hours, up from 200,000, and nearly double the head life at 50,000 hours, up from 30,000, DLT is poised to maintain its market position. These numbers are based on a 100 percent duty cycle, whereas some drives base their stats on as little as 10 percent duty cycles.

Another advantage of the DLT 8000 is its backward compatibility with previous-generation DLT drives. Because those who already have archives of DLT tapes may be reluctant to migrate from DLT, the DLT 8000 offers an excellent path to upgrade from DLT 4000 or to add a new tape library. The DLT 8000 has an expectable price point for an enterprise-class drive; a bare drive costs around $5,000.

Exabyte Mammoth-2

Attempting to dethrone the DLT in the enterprise, Exabyte has significantly revised the Mammoth drive, dubbing it the Mammoth-2. In a case of "too little, too late," the original Mammoth offered reliability but fell short on price and performance. With the new Mammoth-2 drive, Exabyte has delivered a very capable enterprise-class tape drive. Exabyte is also positioning the Mammoth-2 for the backup-automation market. Exabyte has its work cut out, however, with the Mammoth-2. Unlike DLT, the Mammoth-2 uses helical-scan technology, which remains an unproven technology in the enterprise arena, though AIT-2 is helping to change that. Moreover, administrators are gradually rebuilding their confidence in Exabyte.

Regardless, the numbers for the Mammoth-2 are impressive. With a native capacity of 60 GB, up to 150 GB compressed, and a native transfer rate of 12 MBps, up to 30 MBps compressed, the Mammoth-2 offers almost twice the performance and capacity of the DLT 8000. Exabyte claims an MTBF of more than 300,000 hours. Also, the Mammoth-2 offers a head life of 50,000 hours at 100 percent duty cycle.

As those who have worked with helical-scan drives know, keeping the heads cleaned is crucial. Exabyte has cleverly addressed this issue with its new SmartClean cartridges. With a small portion of tape cleaner on every cartridge, the drive can clean its heads without user intervention.

In an attempt to remain competitive, Exabyte has kept the price of Mammoth-2 drives down relative to the DLT 8000 drives. It's possible to find single drives for less than $4,000.

Linear Tape Open

LTO (Linear Tape Open) drives have just begun to hit the market. LTO is a new technology jointly developed by Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Seagate Technology, which tried to develop an "open" standard for tape formats. LTO, based on linear tape technology, strives to combine the latest in ECC (error-correcting code) data distribution, data compression and head technology to form a standard that will be the foundation of future tape drives. LTO comprises two separate standards, the Accelis and Ultrium. The former focuses on fast data access; the latter, on higher capacity. When this was written, there was still little known about the actual capacity and performance specifications of LTO.

However, Seagate is releasing the Viper 200, which is based on the Ultrium format of LTO. The performance and capacity of the new Ultrium drive look extremely promising. The Viper features a native capacity of 100 GB, 200 GB compressed, and a native sustained transfer rate of 16 MBps, or 32 MBps compressed. These numbers far exceed anything the market has previously offered. Accelis-based drives are expected to debut with 25 GB of native capacity with native transfers rates around 20 MBps. Prices for Ultrium or Accelis drives have not yet been determined.

Super DLTtape

Quantum, which has been a driving force in the DLT market, has taken up arms against the LTO threat with its new Super DLTtape technology. Leveraging its already successful line of DLT drives, Quantum is also integrating a new LGMR (laser-guided magnetic recording) technology. This LGMR will use a combination of optical- and magnetic-head technologies to produce better performance, higher capacity and more resilient drives than those previously seen in Quantum's DLT drives.

As little as is known about LTO, even less is known about Super DLTtape. Quantum plans to release the Super DLTtape with a native capacity starting at 100 GB and transfer rates of 10 MBps to 40 MBps. These initial statistics would position the Super DLTtape favorably against LTO. Prices for Super DLTtape drives have not been announced.

Sony AIT-2

Following its original AIT (Advanced Intelligent Tape) drive, Sony has released the next incarnation, called AIT-2. Like the Mammoth-2 and DAT (digital audio tape) drives, AIT uses a helical-scan technology to read and write to tape. Sony originally positioned the AIT-2 in the midrange tape market; according to the Gartner Group, however, AIT has become one of the more popular alternatives to DLT. Originally found predominately as standalone drives, AIT drives are increasingly used in tape automation. In fact, Sony has done such a solid job with its AIT technology, it has rolled out some of the highest-capacity tape silo installations in the industry.

AIT tape drives are known for their unique MIC (Memory in Cassette) feature, which acts as a data index. By using MIC, Sony has been able to reduce load times. The new AIT-2 drive features 50 GB of native capacity, 100 GB compressed, with a native transfer rate of 6 MBps, equaling that of the DLT 8000 drive. One detail of the AIT-2 drive to note: It wasn't designed for extensive backup thrashing. The MTBF on the AIT-2 is rated at 300,000 hours but is calculated based on a 60 percent duty cycle. However, the reliability of AIT has been stellar, making the duty cycle a moot issue. Those looking at DLT automation solutions should also be examining AIT-2 as a worthy alternative.

With the high capacity and high speed comes a higher price. AIT-2 drives sell for around $4,000.

Benchmark DLT1

Benchmark Tape Systems' DLT1 drive may be the most promising entry in the departmental space. Benchmark has remained relatively quiet in the market; instead of pioneering its own tape technology from the ground up, it went with what people already know--Quantum DLT. Benchmark's idea was to license DLT and improve upon it. Benchmark is capitalizing on an excellent opportunity as Quantum has all but neglected the midrange market, offering only its aging DLT 4000. The DLT1 drive is basically a next-generation DLT 4000.

What makes the DLT1 so promising? Aside from the ease of market adoption because of the DLT family connection, the DLT1 offers an excellent mix of capacity, performance, compatibility and price. With 40 GB native capacity, 80 GB compressed, the DLT1 drive matches the upscale DLT 8000 drive. With a 3-MBps native transfer rate, 6 MBps compressed, DLT1 has a respectable raw throughput rate. Those who want to swap out older DLT 4000 tape libraries but who have a heap of archive cartridges will be glad that DLT1 is backward compatible with DLT 4000 cartridges.

Tandberg SLR100

Tandberg and Exabyte are in similar boats: Tandberg has an excellent product, but its past offerings haven't stood out. Tandberg has taken a step in the right direction with its SLR100 drive. Based on the previous-generation MLRs, which have since been rebadged with the SLR nomenclature, the SLR100 uses the linear recording technology. Like the Mammoth-2, the SLR100 has made significant advancements over its counterparts.

One of the keys to the SLR100's newfound performance and capacity is the inclusion of Overland Data's VR2 technology. The VR2 technology lets data written to the tape be coded more efficiently, resulting in additional capacity and performance. The VR2 logic is performed via an onboard processor. This VR2 logic, coupled with an updated compression scheme and revised heads, gives the SLR100 up to 100 GB of compressed data capacity. More important, however, is the 50 GB of native capacity with a native transfer rate of 5 MBps, which pits the SLR100 head to head with the DLT 7000 drives.

If you're adverse to buying a DLT solution or want increased savings over the Mammoth-2, the SLR100 may be the ticket. At a retail price of $1,999, this drive offers an excellent value.

Ecrix VXA-1

Probably the newest and least known player in the market is Ecrix Corp. A proprietary drive designed from the ground up, Ecrix's VXA-1 drive is touted as being one of the most reliable drives. Ecrix substantiates this claim by pointing to VXA-1's advanced form of parity striping, which it calls DPF (Discrete Packet Format). DPF, along with CRC (cyclic redundancy check) and ECC memory, optimizes data integrity on the tapes. The DPF technology looks promising, but only time will tell if it lives up to Ecrix's claims.

On the performance and capacity front, the VXA-1 fares very well on paper. With 33 GB of native data capacity and a 3-MBps native transfer rate, the VXA-1 should hold its own. At a list price of $899, the VXA-1 could possibly be the best deal on the market--if it performs as well as it's supposed to. However, because VXA-1 isn't track-proven, Ecrix is going to have to work some marketing magic to get the ball rolling.

Workgroup Tape Drives

OnStream ADR50

OnStream has begun to create some ripples in both the consumer and workgroup markets with its most recent drive offering, the ADR50. The ADR50 is positioned to challenge in the small-workgroup to midrange markets. ADR50s are beginning to show up on everything from NAS (network-attached storage) servers to the smallest workgroup servers. The drive is based on OnStream's own ADR (Advanced Digital Recording) technology. This can most accurately be defined as a hybrid between helical and linear tape. Similar to linear write, ADR doesn't require tapes to be removed and rewound around a drum to write tracks. Like helical scan, ADR can write multiple tracks simultaneously--eight to be precise.

With a native capacity of 25 GB and up to 2 MBps native transfer rates, the ADR50 is certainly no barn burner, but we are impressed by the ADR50's features. OnStream has enabled the ADR50 drive to continually vary tape speeds to eliminate back hitching, thus reducing wear and tear. Also, the way the eight heads distribute the ECC data across the tape makes it possible to lose an entire track without losing any data. The ADR may prove to be more resilient than helical-scan drives. For the administrator looking to add a single drive backup solution to his or her server, the ADR50 is worth considering. One of the amazing features of this drive is the low price. A bare ADR50 SCSI drive sells for $699.


Now in its fourth generation, DAT DDS (digital data storage) tape drives have become a popular choice for the low-end market. Offering a good mix of performance, capacity and price, the relatively new DDS-4 continues to find success in the workgroup market. The compact form factor of both the drive and the media is a boon for the DDS technology and has made the drives popular among small autoloaders.

The DDS-4 is based on helical-scan technology. Now offering a native capacity of 20 GB, up from 12 GB, with a native sustained transfer rate of 2.4 MBps, up from 1.2 MBps, the DDS-4 drives offer a significant increase in performance and capacity. However, the DDS-4 keeps its roots planted in the workgroup environment, where backups are occasional and backup windows are small. The DDS-4 drive has an MTBF of 250,000 hours at a 40 percent duty cycle.

Because price is one of the biggest considerations in the workgroup environment, costs have been kept relatively low. A bare DDS-4 drive will run you about $1,000, which isn't bad given the drives' backward-compatible functionality and inexpensive media.













TAPE-DRIVE-TECHNOLGY Wholesale distributors of data storage drives, tape libraries, storage media and archival solutions.

9 to 5 provides cutting edge technologies from all tape drives.


Including all major storage platforms such as:
DLT, AIT, LTO, SUPER DLT, Mammoth, Optical, 4MM, 8MM, Magstar, Travan, ", ", Reel-to-reel, 3480, 3490, 3570, 3590, 9840, 9940, JAZ, ZIP, CDR-RW, DVD-R/RAM

And support peripherals, host adaptors, controllers, bridges, routers and enclosures from the leaders in the market with:
Adaptec, ATTO, CI DESIGN, Emulex, GadZoox, Initio, JMR, JNI, Qlogic, Slim

TAPE-DRIVE-TECHNOLGY, Since 1991, 9 TO 5 COMPUTER has been providing such top tier products to corporate data centers, government , VAR's, resellers, OEM's, and wholesalers throughout the entire global marketplace.

Whether you need a Quantum DLT tape drive, tape library, disaster recovery solution, storage media, storage racks, drive repair, backup software or professional consultation regarding your storage solution needs, contact one of our tech sales guys today!!!!

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*Price and availabilities subject to change without any notice. Not responsible for typographical errors.