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Automated Tape Libraries Are New SDLT Groupies!

"It's super!", they cheer, "what took you so long?"

Following hard on the heels of IBM's announcement of LTO Ultrium shipments, Quantum Corporation's DLT & Storage Systems Group announced long-awaited shipments of its next-generation Super DLTtape drives into automated tape library OEMs. Based upon the DLTtape technology platform acquired some years ago from Digital Equipment Corporation, Super DLTtape is expected to deliver improved performance and reliability that customers can depend upon to exceed their demanding data storage protection and archiving needs.

"As leaders in the tape storage industry and providers of a proven technology, we proudly offer Super DLTtape technology--a next-generation product that is designed to deliver significant advances over previous DLTtape drives in terms of capacity and performance, while continuing to maintain unsurpassed reliability," said William Boles, vice president, marketing for Quantum DLTtape. "The support and collaboration that Quantum is receiving from leading library automation vendors and OEM partners further strengthens Super DLTtape as the tape backup of choice for midrange systems."

"The tape storage industry has eagerly anticipated Quantum's shipping its first-generation Super DLTtape units," said Robert Abraham of Freeman Reports. "It is very significant that this major milestone is achieved with support from the leading system and automated tape library companies, including ADIC, ATL, and Overland Data."

The individual drives offer 110GB per cartridge in native mode. Transfer rate is speced at 11MB/sec. According to Phil Treide at Quantum, the drive will run on Ultra2 SCSI as well as a 40MB LVD iteration. He notes that the drive is designed for both standalone and automation applications. The drives have been tested at 250,000 cycles of load/unload.

Late To Market

Like the new release of LTO, Super DLTape is late to market in the view of many industry observers. Many believe that the current strong selling position of existing DLT products produced something of a complacency that slowed the product's introduction. Treide pointed out that the Super DLTape is not an iterative product; the design was reworked from the ground up. Several new technologies, including a pivotal optical servo, PRML read channel changes and others required longer lead times to qualify and perfect before shipping into general availability.

Although Super DLTtape technology offers backward-read compatibility with the existing DLTtape product family and Benchmark DLT1, this new product release is not a backward compatible version. Triede indicated that the fully backward-read compatible version would be available later in the quarter. Like currently available DLTtape drives, Super DLTtape is expected to support all major systems and platforms, including Unix, Linux, Netware, Windows NT and Mac OS. Tandberg Data will act as second source for Super DLTape, according to a spokesperson.

Shipping Into Automation

Several key automation vendors, including Storage Technology Corporation are receiving drives to integrate into full-featured automated tape library products. Several companies announced involvement on the day Quantum made its announcement. Advanced Digital Equipment Corporation, Overland Data, Inc. and Quantum/ATL are among the first library automation suppliers to receive Super DLTtape drives.

In a prepared statement, Steve Richardson at Overland Data said: "Overland has been directly involved from the initial testing of Super DLTtape technology. We have witnessed the high capacity, reliability and compatibility of Super DLTtape that our customers are demanding. We are committed to combining this breakthrough technology with our... line of automated libraries to deliver to our customers what we believe will be the industry's most dependable solution."

"Today's data-driven economy has spurred the necessity for a data storage and archiving solution that offers breakthrough levels of performance, capacity and reliability," said Kevin Honeycutt, at ADIC. "Super DLTrape represents an opportunity for us to continue to deliver products that boast unprecedented quality and reliability to our customers."

At ATL Products, a subsidiary of Quantum, Gary Brinkman observed: "As data storage demands continue to skyrocket, high performance, increased capacity and rock-solid reliability are the hallmarks of what our customers expect from us and the DLTtape platform. The combination of Super DLTtape and our...libraries offer an...enterprise solution that delivers upon the expectations of our customers."

In addition, Compaq Corporation, a long-time Quantum OEM business partner, has received Super DLTtape units destined for key Compaq customers as part of Quantum's Customer Engagement Program (CEP)--an initiative that involves OEM and library partners in the product development cycle from concept to delivery

Rusty Smith with Compaq's storage organization said "Compaq's participation in Quantum's Customer Engagement Program has enabled us to be a part of the development process of Super DLTtape to help ensure that the high standards and needs of all our customers are met. Based upon a proven technology known for high performance and reliability, Super DLTtape along with Compaq's leading automation technology, enables Compaq to deliver cost-effective data storage solutions to our customers." Super DLTtape is expected to follow the same path that has made DLT technology the remarkable success it is in the midrange space. The new technologies, such as the optical servo and the improved PRML error correction support applications from the workgroup on up, according to the company.

The technology provides capacity and transfer rates targeted to the workgroup, mid-range and enterprise backup and archival markets. For workgroup and departmental servers, the Super DLTtape drive will deliver a capacity of 80GB and a transfer rate of 8MB/sec. The mid-range market including large corporate departments and mid-size automated libraries will see a drive with a capacity of 110GB and transfer rate of 11MB/sec. In response to high performance enterprise needs, Quantum will also offer a Super DLTtape drive, with a transfer rate of greater than 16MB/sec. (All specifications stated are in native mode).

Maxell First Media To Qualify

In a related announcement, Maxell, well-known manufacturer of tape media, has qualified Super DLTtape I media and is currently shipping cartridges to Quantum.

Super DLTtape I media utilizes the Advanced Metal Particle (AMP) formulation to provide high recording density and to increase media capacity. Super DLTtape I media also incorporates a revolutionary back coating that contains optical servo tracks. By implementing optical servo tracks on the backside of the media, customers use the entire magnetic surface of the media for recording data. The new Super DLTtape cartridge also has a more rugged cartridge design and is equipped with special structural features to enhance resistance to physical damage. Super DLTtape I also features a new buckling link that provides a strong, positive engagement with Super DLTtape drives.

"Our commitment and dedication to the development and manufacture of Super DLTtape I cartridges and media is a reinforcement of our longstanding relationship with and belief in Quantum," said Tom Taniguchi with Maxell's Recording Media Business Group. "We are confident that this advanced technology will far surpass the great successes of our previous endeavors in media production."

Maxell is the first media supplier to qualify and will begin production of Super DLTtape I media. At press time, Quantum was qualifying several additional suppliers of Super DLTtape I media.

Editor's Note: A listing of Super DLT vendors can be found at

This article marks the first in a continuing series Mark Ferelli will be writing about Super DLT. Look for others in upcoming issues.
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Title Annotation:Super DLT tape drive from Quantum
Author:Ferelli, Mark
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Article Type:Product Announcement
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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