Green LTO-9 Tape Drive Logo

After delays galore the LTO-9 drives are now finally being shipped to hyperscaler centers galore. Right now only full height drives are available for robot machines but half-height drives should be available next year. At present half-height drives for LTO-7 are widely available and LTO-8 models should be more widely available now as well.

  • Native data transfer rate of up to 400 MB/s for full-height (FH) tape drives
  • LTO Generation 9 media specification tape cartridge compressed capacity of up to 45 TB (18 TB native)
  • 8 Gbps Fibre Channel dual-ported drive attachment on IBM models F9C and F9S
  • 12 Gbps dual-ported SAS attachment
  • A 1 GB internal buffer
  • Support for media partitioning and self-describing tape
  • LTO-9 encryption support

Prices are $20,729.99 for a Spectra Logic LTO-9 drive, This will soften after a few months with LTO-9 on the market, LTO-9 tape will be higher priced initially before easing into next year. Tape is about $370 each but stocks are backordered. The drives are expected to become generally available on September 10, 2021.

LTO-9 stores 18TB natively which will initially allow data centers to migrate to the higher cappacity tapes which will slightly reduce the volume of tapes needed.

The Spectra TFinity ExaScale Tape Library is being flogged as the highest capacity tape library. With up to 144 drives you can transfer data up to 207.4 TB/hr. using LTO-9 tape technology.

Quantum is ecstatic to have LTO-9 for their customers as well. The Scaler i6000 is their flagship tape system for enterprise clients.

IBM is also supporting LTO-9 with their mainframe and server support group. IBM TS4500 Tape Library supports IBM Ultrium Linear Tape-Open (LTO) 9 tape drive technology. Support for new and field merge IBM LTO-9 (3588-F9C, 3588-F9S, and 3588-S9C) drives into 3584 models L55 and D55

Fujifilm announced the delivery of their first LTO-9 tape cartridges, the latest in a long line of advances in the super tape format that first debuted in 2000. Sony, which is the only other media manufacturer certified to sell LTO-9 cartridges, is expected to announce the availability of its LTO-9 cartridges soon. Volume production of LTO-9 cartriges are available and large orders will be taken soon.

source lto consortium

The LTO-9 specification represented a somewhat disappointing performance increase over LTO-8, which offered 12 TB of native capacity and 300 MB/s data transfer rates. Instead of doubling the capacity, as the LTO Program traditionally has sought to do with each subsequent generation of the tape program, the LTO Program offered only a 50 percent increase. The data transfer rate, meanwhile, increased by about 33 percent, down significantly from the 87.5 percent increase from LTO-7 to LTO-8.

LTO-9 reduces the volume of tapes but the current barcode system is adequate for robotic systems to be able to identify and mount the specified tape quickly. With upwards of 20,000 tapes a system of tape management becomes important.

LTO WORM capability means that once recorded the tape cannot be overwritten. This feature gives LTO the upperhand against ransomware. The backup of the business is assured.


The manual backup using LTO tape drvies in an IT managers machine are convenient for smaller shops. Copying backups to the tape is simple drag and drop. LTO tape formatted like disks to simplify use. Tape is ideal for resisttance to server failure and ransomware. The capacity of LTO-9 is perfect for copying backups galore. While reliable, its advisable to make multiple tape backup copies to prevent the unthinkable. Disks and tapes do fail.

LTO-9 uses the same Adaptec ASR-8405 that LTO-8 like the old drive so it can be copied from one tape drive to the other using drag and drop in Windows. It is simple to move to the larger capacity format by copying to a hard disk and swapping tapes. The ASR-8405 comes with a 1GB buffer which is handy for tape drive users. LTO-9 is backwards compatible with LTO-8 so old tapes can be copied easily.

The larger more expensive Adaptec ASR-71605 has four SFF-8643 ports so it can handle several tape drives. It has 1GB of RAM for a buffer as this card is more widely used in storage servers. No reason it cannot be leveraged for tape backup as well.

Bar code readers are inexpensive. LTFS works in conjunction with LTO technology technology’s (partitioning feature) for ease of use and portability for open systems tape storage. With LTFS, one partition holds the content and the other holds the content’s index, so the tape can be self-describing to improve archive management. The LTO roadmap is still far from DOA. Eventually its is expected that tape will reach 144TB each.



The so called coldstorage services are offered by IBM, Azure and other major cloud vendors. Essentially the storage tiers for various vendors do reach down to tape systems, The Spectra TFinity ExaScale Tape Library is just one of several tape systems used by cloud vendors. All of hyperscalers use tape as one of the layers of storage. Large tape systems are ideal for safety from ransomware etc. This is why mainframe shops use tape as part of the overall SNA setup.

Hyperscaler systems tend to use SSD servers for the highest demands from data processing. Hard disk are used to handle less frequently needed content. Tape system can easily eject a tray of tapes for external storage. Other trays with fresh tapes can then be inserted and put into service. Tapes can be stored in fire resistant buildings where their durability is assured. LTO is designed for 30 year cold service life.

Back in the old days with vacuum colum tape, the moden LTO is now a universe more sophisticated. Pretty much all of the half inch tape has been retired and converted to LTO which is maturing nicely. Unlike video card vendors, the studio knows well the mainframe and the world it created. The old standby System/360 was such a humble beginning. IBM 2401 tape systems really developed electronic data processing.

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