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Quantum pushes tape drive limit

The data storage company is unveiling a tape drive product that aims to improve speed and capacity and provide easy management.

Data storage company Quantum is unveiling a tape drive product that aims to improve speed and capacity and provide easy management.

San Jose, Calif.-based Quantum announced on Tuesday the availability of its SDLT 600, a tape drive that boasts a 72 megabyte-per-second compressed data transfer rate and a capacity of 600GB of compressed data.

Quantum's previous drive, the SDLT 320, offers a 32MB-per-second compressed data transfer rate and a compressed data capacity of 320GB. Information from databases typically can be compressed, according to Quantum. Data from audio or photograph files tends to be compressed already and usually not subject to further compression, according to the company.

Customers can expect to receive shipments of the new drive this quarter, according to Quantum.

Tape drives frequently are used to back up corporate data. The drives often are applied in so-called tape libraries, which use robotic systems to place numerous tape cartridges in and out of drives.

SDLT is a tape drive standard that competes against drives using Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology, which is backed by Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Certance.

Aside from wooing customers with performance and capacity numbers, Quantum is hoping its new drive will be a hit because it is easy to manage. The drive incorporates Quantum's DLTSage product, a combination of software and hardware that aims to help customers manage drives as well as predict and prevent problems. For example, the product can determine whether error rates are increasing and whether a problem relates to the drive or the tape media.

Robert Amatruda, an analyst with research firm IDC, characterized DLTSage as a useful tool. "Clearly it differentiates them from many other products on the market," he said.

The SDLT 600 drive will use a new tape media, but can read earlier-generation tape cartridges, Quantum said.