Sony Tape Drive Breaks 1TB Barrier

Sony Electronics has begun shipping to tape library automation OEMs what the
company claims is the first available tape drive to break the 1 terabyte
capacity barrier.

The first-generation SAIT drives and media expand Sony’s mid-range
Advanced Intelligent Tape technology products. With the ability to store
up to 1.3 terabytes of compressed data (500 gigabytes native) on a
half-inch tape cartridge, SAIT-1 is “the industry’s highest capacity
tape drive and the first available product to break the 1TB capacity
barrier,” Sony said. The enterprise-class drive also features a
sustained transfer rate of up to 78 MB per second (30 MB/sec native) for
efficient data recording and fast data recovery.

Sony said its internal business units and OEM partners will offer
automated SAIT-1 solutions for sale beginning this spring. Tape library
manufacturers such as ADIC, Qualstar and Spectra Logic have expressed
interest in supporting the integration of SAIT drives and media into
half-inch tape automation solutions, the company said. Later this year,
Sony is also expected to introduce a SAIT version of its PetaSite tape
library system.

“Sony’s introduction of its SAIT tape technology provides customers the
highest capacity tape solution commercially available today,” said IDC
Research Manager Robert Amatruda. “SAIT will enable midrange tape
customers to have enterprise-class capacity at very competitive
price-points.”

“The super drive segment is expected to comprise nearly 80 percent of
compact tape drive revenue by 2007,” said Freeman Reports President
Robert Abraham. “SAIT-1 launches Sony into a leadership position in the
high-end tape market and offers a compelling blend of capacity and
performance for the automation market.”

SAIT-1 Libraries Available in Several Configurations

SAIT-1 libraries will be available in a number of configurations, with a
1,000-cartridge library capable of storing up to 1.3 petabytes of data.
With the number of companies managing a petabyte or more of data, which
is expected to multiply in the next two years, an ultra-scalable,
cost-effective storage solution is a necessity, Sony said.

Steve Baker, vice president for Tape Storage Solutions at Sony
Electronics’ Business Systems and Solutions Company, said SAIT
technology gives Sony and its OEM partners the ability to offer storage
solutions not possible with current half-inch tape technologies.

“SAIT represents a new level of high-capacity, high-performance tape
backup with scalability limits that surpass previous industry
achievements, which help maintain tape’s cost per gigabyte advantage
over disk technology,” Baker said. Customers working with large
databases, video production and broadcast applications, e-commerce
transaction processing and storage, and medical imaging “have eagerly
awaited a product like SAIT, which combines high data throughput with
unparalleled capacity and low cost of ownership,” he said.

SAIT drives leverage Sony’s AIT architecture in a 5.25-inch extended
drive footprint, combining the data density advantages of helical-scan
recording with the longer and wider tape usually associated with linear
tape drives to achieve a much higher data storage capacity, Sony said.

Ultra-SCSI and Fibre Channel Interface Options

For connectivity with a variety of networks, SAIT-1 drives come equipped
with either an Ultra-SCSI or Fibre Channel interface. The Fibre Channel
port supports up to 2Gbps, so SAIT drives can provide high-speed backup
functions within a storage area network (SAN).

As one of the largest recording media manufacturers in the world, Sony
said it is also producing SAIT-1 tape cartridges for the industry.
SAIT-1 media is based on Advanced Metal Evaporated (AME) tape
technology. Through the AME process, nearly 100 percent active magnetic
material is evaporated onto a substrate and then coated for exceptional
durability and results in exceptional data integrity.

“The magnetic properties, storage density and durability of AME tape
technology make it a natural choice for SAIT media,” Baker said. “We’ve
been able to leverage existing manufacturing capabilities to develop
SAIT-1 media, and we’re confident it will be of the highest quality and
durability.”

In addition to Sony, Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries and
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., known for Panasonic-brand products,
will provide the market with alternative manufacturing sources for SAIT
drives and media, respectively.

Sony said that in 2001, it set the record for tape storage density by
demonstrating 11.5 Gbits of data on a square inch of tape. By 2010,
Baker said that Sony will be able to scale SAIT technology up to 10 TB
(native) on a single half-inch tape cartridge.

Currently, the company’s
SAIT roadmap extends to a fourth-generation, with the aim of doubling
capacity and performance from generation to generation. SAIT-4
technology is expected to feature up to 4 TB of native capacity in a
single cartridge (10.4 TB compressed). Sony also said it intends to
maintain backward read/write media compatibility with at least the
previous generation of SAIT drives.

Back to Enterprise Storage Forum

Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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