HP Unveils USB DAT Tape Drives For SMBs

HP on Monday unveiled new versions of its DAT 72 and DAT 40 tape drives that use the USB 2.0 interface instead of the traditional SCSI interface, making the products less expensive and easier to install, said Troy Davis, product marketing manager for HP StorageWorks. The DAT format remains the most popular of all tape formats and accounts for more than 40 percent of drive sales, he added.

HP's new DAT tape drives come in external and internal versions. The external drives connect to a PC's or server's USB port. The internal models can connect to a USB port, which is being built onto the motherboard of some HP ML-Series servers, or routed through the back of the computer via a cable routing kit that uses an empty adapter-card slot, Davis said.

Stephen Allen, president of Integrated Technology Systems, a New York-based solution provider, said that with the continuing popularity of DAT, USB will be a welcome addition to his product line.

"Manufacturers have really created a market for USB drives, but backup has been left behind," Allen said. "We sell DAT all the time. But customers need a $150 to $250 add-on for a SCSI host-bus adapter and cable. So USB will make for a great drive."

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Though USB doesn't offer as much performance as SCSI, it makes little difference for DAT drives that have a throughput of about 6 Mbytes per second in either format, according to Davis. DAT 72 drives can put up to 72 Gbytes of compressed data on a single cartridge, and DAT 40 drives have a per-cartridge capacity of 40 Gbytes.

The USB 2.0 version of the DAT 72 tape drive lists for $749, and the DAT 40 tape drive costs $599. Both are expected to ship July 11, according to HP.

In addition, HP unveiled lower-cost LTO tape products slated to become available this week: the Ultrium 232 tape drive and the HP StorageWorks 1/8 Autoloader.

A less expensive version of HP's LTO-1 tape drive, the Ultrium 232 has a throughput of 32 Mbytes per second and offers more than twice the performance of the Ultrium 215 drive, Davis said. The 232 lists for $1,799, compared with $1,899 for the 215.

The HP StorageWorks 1/8 Autoloader features one LTO tape drive and space for up to eight cartridges. The $5,299 Ultrium 448 autoloader includes an LTO-2 drive with a capacity of 400 Gbytes per cartridge and 48-Mbyte-per-second throughput. The $7,499 Ultrium 960 uses LTO-3 tape technology for backing up to 800 Gbytes per cartridge at 160 Mbytes per second, the company said.