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SUPER DLTtape TECHNOLOGY MODULAR DESIGN: Building blocks for future generations.

DLTtape technology has been the defacto standard in meeting mid-range backup and archive needs for almost a decade. With more than 1,400,000 units shipped since its introduction, the DLTtape system is a highly successful tape drive platform with the industry's largest installed base in the midrange tape market.

Now, Super DLTtape technology promises to continue the strong DLTtape tradition by providing state-of-the-art technological advances to meet the business-critical demands of next and future generation storage solutions. The Super DLTtape Platform's architecture is designed for high reliability and data integrity for non-stop computing. It will change the way companies protect and use information, and bring the storage industry into the 21st century.

Super DLTtape technology's unique modular architecture and enabling technologies offer the best features of DLTtape technology and much more. Building on the reliability and performance that made DLTtape technology the midrange market leader, Super DLTtape Technology provides an uncompromising design capable of supporting multiple generations of Super DLTtape Systems.

Modular Design of Super DLTtape Architecture

Quantum engineers have advanced the technology by architecting the Super DLTtape System in five distinct modules (See Fig). The modules include the features of current DLTtape Technology design and the new technologies that allow the Super DLTtape System to achieve its exceptional performance. Each is optimized to perform a specific set of functions and designed to interface with the other modules in a prescribed manner.

Users and integrators will reap tremendous economic benefits from the Super DLTtape System's modular design, such as decreased time to-market and manufacture, and improved support and service. Super DLTtape Modular Platform benefits include:

* Faster product designs: By focusing on a specific function or set of functions, Quantum design teams can rapidly develop the final design for each module:

* Simplified manufacturing: Each module is manufactured and fully tested as a separate functioning component. When joined, the modules work flawlessly in the final drive assembly.

Other anticipated benefits include highest level of quality: The competencies of each design team and manufacturing partner are carefully matched with the single module on which they focus; Improved upgrade capability: Modules can be upgraded independently as needed. New modules are integrated easily into the system without modifying modules already in place; Ease of configuration: The modular structure offers greater flexibility in configuration and customization for areas including user-specified host interface connections, customer-specified firmware and color match of the front panel module; and Improved upgrade and support: Drive troubleshooting and repair is much easier because each module has independent trouble/error reporting capabilities.

TCM - Tape Control Module

The TCM offers three new components that contribute to the groundbreaking reliability and performance of the Super DLTtape drive - a base plate, cartridge receiver and buckling mechanism. The TCM uses these components to control the loading and unloading of the tape into the drive, support the tape in the drive, and support other drive modules. The base plate is the support platform for the other modules and drive enclosure. Precision mounting holes make it easy to install the drive into server or storage configurations. The base plate and the entire Super DLTtape drive measures 8" long and 5.25" high, conforming to standard 5.25" full-height specifications.

The new cartridge receiver replaces the manual lock and release handle with an automatic load/unload capability for ease of use in standalone applications and automated tape libraries. The cartridge receiver assembly guides the tape into the operating position, opens the cartridge door, unlocks the cartridge brakes, engages the cartridge drive motor and secures the tape for operation.

A unique buckling system increases cartridge life and supports heavy duty-cycle environments.

The buckling mechanism engages the tape leaders upon cartridge load and disengages them upon cartridge unload. A solid metal pin attached to the drive leader links with molded clips that are permanently attached to the tape leader inside the cartridge. The Positive Leader Link design makes the buckling of the media a highly reliable mechanical process. In addition to supporting Super DLTtape cartridges, the buckling mechanism supports existing DLTtape IV data cartridges to ensure complete backward-read compatibility.

DCM - Data Control Module

Of the four enabling technologies that constitute Quantum's breakthrough Laser Guided Magnetic Recording (LGMR) technology, two are found in the DCM: Pivoting Optical Servo (POS) and the Magneto Resistive Cluster (MRC) heads. The DCM also includes an advanced head guide assembly, take-up reel drive motor, the optical servo system and the tape heads.

The optically-assisted servo system combines high-density magnetic read/write data recording and laser servo guiding. POS combines the best of optical and magnetic technologies to offer increased capacity and high-duty cycle reliability. By implementing an optical servo on the unused back side of the media, the technology uses fully 100% of the data bearing side of the media for recording.

MRC heads are a cluster of small, cost effective magneto resistive tape heads that are densely packed using advanced thin film processing technology. MRC heads can deliver higher data transfer rates and greater data density than traditional heads of equal size. The platform tape path has been simplified and improved using the patented design of DLTtape architecture. The refined head guide assembly improves performance and reliability by reducing the number of tape guides from 6 to 4, for a more straightforward tape motion.

FPM - Front Panel Module

The front panel of the drive (often called the bezel) performs a number of functions including protection for the front of the drive, channeling airflow through the drive, aligning the cartridge when it is inserted into the drive, providing drive status and information through LEDs, enabling cartridge ejection, and delivering an overall cosmetic look.

The FPM's design as a distinct module makes it easy for OEMs to customize Super DLTtape drive bezels by incorporating their own color requirements and branding options. Quantum offers two slightly different front panels for the Super DLTtape drive -- one for standalone and host system application configurations, and one for automated tape libraries.

EIM - Electronics And Interface Module

The EIM is the electronic heart of the Super DLTtape subsystem. It provides the main control function for the drive, as well as the interface functionality from the drive to the host system. The EIM houses another key feature: the Advanced Partial Response Maximum Likelihood (PRML) channel. Advanced PRML enables greater capacity and performance through high encoding efficiency recording densities to significantly increase transfer rates. The platform also helps customers respond quickly to changing market conditions for host interfaces, because all host interface activities are designed into a board that is separate from the main controller. Quantum supports the widely used SCSI interface, and plans to add interfaces such as Fibre Channel as the market requests.

CTM - Cartridge Tape Module

The CTM helps customers remove and store media safely with the magnetic recording media used by the drive and a protective cartridge. CTM offers two major enhancements -- Advanced Metal Powder media, and a rugged new cartridge design. Advanced Metal Powder (AMP) media offers increased tape capacity, ease of use and lower cost of ownership. Designed to meet the needs of multiple generations of Super DLTtape drives, AMP media ensures the highest track density available today. AMP uses durable metal powder technology for recording at very high densities. The backside of the AMP media contains a specially formulated back-coating to receive the optical servo tracks, so users can reserve the entire data-bearing side of the media for recording data and eliminate the need for pre-formatting. The new cartridge uses wear-resistant materials to increase durability and cartridge life, while decreasing the potential for debris generation. An internal circular wall and structural ribbing boost overall cartridge resiliency and minimize potential damage resulting from a drop.

Building Blocks

DLTtape technology is a highly successful tape platform and has served mid-range backup and archive needs for almost a decade. With its technological advances, the Super DLTtape technology is positioned to meet the demands of next and future generation storage solutions.

The modular architecture of the new platform incorporates all the major features of the industry standard DLTtape technology. These features, together with breakthrough enabling technologies, will change the tape industry. Building upon the reliability and performance that made DLTtape Technology so successful, Quantum's building block approach is a surefire design capable of supporting multiple generations of Super DLTtape systems.

George Saliba is vice president, advanced products group & Chief Technical Officer, DLTtape & Storage Systems Group at Quantum Corp. (Shrewsbury, MA).
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Title Annotation:Technology Information
Author:Saliba, George
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:1397
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