The linear tape open (LTO roadmap) has been extended with the introduction of some new materials. The LTO group indicated that LTO-9 will be 18GB instead of the 24GB previously expected. The move is to reduce the cost of LTO-9.
|LTO-1||100 GB||20 MB/s|
|LTO-4||800 GB||120 MB/s|
|LTO-6||2.5 TB||160 MB/s|
|LTO-7||6 TB||300 MB/s|
|LTO-8||12 TB||360 MB/s|
|LTO-9||18 TB||708 MB/s|
Quantum is taking preorders for LTO-9 drivers for their i6000 robotic tape library. Other vendors are working on designing new tape drives.
Compared to SSD servers clearly tape is sluggish. Even 708 MB/s is not exactly all that fast. This is why vendors use robotic systems which can handle the volume along with offering faster performance.
In 2017, IBM in collaboration with Sony developed a prototype tape using sputtered media. They reached 201 gigabit areal density which is about 330TB per tape.
More recently Fujifilm has developed a new 400TB tape cartridge using Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) media. This is 33 times larger than the current LTO-8 cartridge and envisions four more LTO generations to 2028 and beyond. Fujifilm expects SrFe media to be used in LTO-11 and LTO-12 tape.
Current magnetic tapes are coated with Barium Ferrite (BaFe) and each LTO generation uses smaller particles formed into narrower data tracks.
While hard disks have higher areal density, the tape industry is working hard for handling vast archives of data. 12TB hard disks are now lower in cost which motivates tape to expand capacity. More recent 14TB and 16TB hard disks are increasing the pressure.
Large robotic libraries form the basis for cold archival storage. This has been the main focus for larger systems where tapes are removed from the robot and stored in boxes and shelves. Robotic libraries are able to handle new tape densities and data migration is comparatively easy with banks of tape drives available.