A high-capacity data storage system for storing, retrieving, reading and writing multiple magnetic tape cartridges. Also called a "tape automation system," it contains storage racks for holding the cartridges and a robotic mechanism for moving the cartridge to the drive.|
Tape libraries are available for 3480, 3490, Magstar, Magstar MP, DLT, 4mm DAT, 8mm and Travan tape cartridges. Smaller units can have several drives for simultaneous reading and writing and may hold from a handful to several hundred cartridges. Large units support dozens of drives and hold several thousand cartridges.
Accessing data in a tape library can take from 15 seconds to a minute in order to find, retrieve and load a cartridge, making it available for reading and writing.
StorageTek's RedWood SD-3 tape libary is one of the largest in the world and can hold up to 6,000 helical scan cartridges. Each cartridge holds 50GB, which if fully populated would store 300 terabytes of data. (Image courtesy of Storage Technology Corporation.)
All tape and disk libraries have a robotic-like device that retracts and inserts the cartridges and moves them to the read/write heads. This photo shows the mechanism in an AIT library from Cambridge Computer Services, Inc. (www.cambridgecomputer.com). The tapes are held in a rotating carousel (left) that can hold hundreds of cartridges.