Quantum boosts tape drive performance

Quantum Corp. Tuesday released its latest midrange tape drive, bulking up the amount of data that can be stored on a drive and cutting backup times for midsized companies

Quantum’s SDLT 320 makes a significant jump in storage capacity over the current SDLT 220 drives. Whereas the SDLT 220 tops out at 220G bytes of compressed data, the new drive can store as much as 160G bytes of uncompressed data and 320G bytes of compressed data. The SDLT 320 can also transfer data at 16M bytes per second as compared to an 11M byte-per-second rate with the previous drive, said Jim Jonez, director of product marketing at Quantum.

The greater drive capacity could be advantageous to companies with cramped data centres. The SDLT 320 drive will fit into existing tape libraries, allowing users to pack more data in the same space. In addition, customers can take an old SDLT 220 tape cartridge and get the higher storage capacity by reformatting it in the new drive, Jonez said.

Tape continues to be a popular medium for many data storage tasks as it can offer lower costs and less hassle than disk-based storage. Tape storage is often used by companies for large data backup projects and for archiving information.

One user was impressed by the performance of the new drive and said a higher cost would not stop him from purchasing the SDLT 320.

“In backup media it is about reliability first, but after that it’s all about performance,” said Ed Goldfarb, principal composer at Madcap Labs, in Corte Madera, California. “Naturally, faster throughput and larger capacity just translate into extras on my end.”

Madcap Labs uses Quantum’s products to store large amounts of audio data, including the musical score for new footage in the recently released director’s cut of the Vietnam War film “Apocalypse Now.” The company plans to purchase the new drives later this year, Goldfarb said.

Quantum, based in Milpitas, California, has started shipping the drives worldwide at a retail price of US$4,495. The tape media is priced at $149.95 for 160G bytes of capacity.