The announcement, from a consortium of Certance, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, is a sign that the LTO Ultrium format may be making headway against rival technology from Quantum. LTO Ultrium cartridges hit the market in September 2000 and shipments had climbed to 5 million as of December 2002.
"Even during these times of economic uncertainty, the LTO Ultrium tape format is dramatically out-shipping competing formats, and the adoption rate is outpacing even our own expectations," said Bob Wilson, general manager at HP Network Storage Solutions.
John McArthur, analyst with market researcher IDC, suggested the sale of LTO Ultrium cartridges reflects companies' interest in so-called super drives. These higher capacity, faster tape drives allow customers to shrink the number of back-up tape machines they use.
"We don't understand why end-users aren't doing it faster because tape consolidation saves customers so much," he said. Some super drives use tapes with the LTO Ultrium format, while others are built for tapes with Quantum's Super DLTtape (SDLT) format.
Quantum wouldn't say Tuesday how many SDLT cartridges have shipped. But Steve Berens, Quantum's senior director for product marketing and strategy, said shipments of cartridges with its earlier-generation DLTtape format have reached a more impressive milestone than 10 million.
"We're now well over 90 million cartridges in DLT," he said. DLT cartridges have been shipping since the mid-1990s, he said. Companies such as Imation and Sony license DLT technology to make cartridges, Berens said.