Tales Of The Tape: 6 LTO-7 Technology Strategies

LTO-7 Arrives

The imminent arrival of the new LTO-7 tape format, details of which were released in September, is proof that tape has yet to breathe its last, despite multiple reports to the contrary.

The LTO-7 format offers a raw capacity of 6 TB per cartridge, which is about 2.4 times the capacity of LTO-6 cartridges. With compression, maximum capacity rises to up to 15 TB per cartridge, or double that of LTO-6. LTO-7 tape drives feature data-transfer rates of up to 750 MBps compressed, or more than 2.7 TBs per hour, per drive.

There's more. The LTO Consortium, which includes Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Quantum, previously released road maps calling for compressed capacities of 62.5 TB for LTO-9 and 120 TB for LTO-10, with transfer rates expected to reach up to 1,770 MBps for LTO-9 and 2,750 MBps for LTO-10.

Several vendors already have unveiled tape automation systems for LTO-7, with shipments expected to commence before year-end. Here’s some of what's in store for the lowest-cost archiving technology.

LTO-7 photo courtesy of Spectra Logic.


Dell, Red Rock, Texas, said it plans to support LTO-7 drives starting this November in the Dell tower servers, stand-alone drives and Dell Storage tape libraries, which currently support LTO-4, LOT-5 and LTO-6 drives. This includes the entry-level TL1000, a 1U auto-loader supporting a single cartridge; the TL2000 library, a 2U solution with up to 24 cartridges; the TL4000 library, a 4U solution with up to 48 cartridges; and the ML6000 modular library, a 5U system supporting 41 to 409 cartridges.


Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP plans to start shipping its HP StoreEver MSL6480 with LTO-7 drives starting Dec. 1.

The HP StoreEver MSL6480 scales vertically from 80 to 560 cartridge slots with up to 8.4 PB of data using 2.5:1 compression in a single 19-inch rack. Customers can add up to 42 LTO-7 half-height SAS or Fibre Channel drives for native bandwidth of up to 45.3 TB per hour.

The HP StoreEver MSL6480 starts as an empty base library with standard redundant power supplies and room for up to six LTO-7 half-height drives and up to 80 cartridge slots for a fully configured capacity of up to 1.2 PB. Up to six 6U expansion modules can be added, each of which can be configured with up to six LTO-7 half-height tape drives and up to 80 cartridge slots .The base unit and expansion units can be configured with customers' existing drives for consolidation of multiple libraries.


The IBM TS4500 tape library from Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM targets midsize and large enterprises, and supports both LTO and IBM enterprise drives. The TS4500, which can grow by adding expansion to both the right and left of the first unit, offers capacity-on-demand, tape-drive encryption, and WORM media support. Advanced features include the Advanced Library Management System, which supports dynamic storage management to let users dynamically create and change logical libraries and configure any drive into any logical library.

The TS4500 also offers automatic control-path and data-path failover for business continuity and disaster recovery. The TS4500 can scale to up to 18 frames for a total native capacity of 139 PB with LTO-7 drives or 175.5 PB with IBM TS1150 drives. Both LTO and IBM enterprise drives can reside in the same library.


San Jose, Calif.-based Quantum is already taking orders for LTO-7 drives in its Scalar i6000, with shipments of the new technology slated to begin in December. The Scalar i6000 supports up to 192 tape drives, and up to 12,006 cartridge slots. Quantum said the library would support more than 15,000 slots sometime in 2016.

Quantum claims its Scalar i6000 is unique as the only enterprise LTO library that fits a standard 19-inch data center rack layout for better space utilization. Expansion comes from the company's High Density Expansion Modules, or HDEMs. The Scalar i6000 also features dual robots to improve availability and performance, bulk media load and unload, RESTful Web Services to let customers script any task, and an in-library vault to help reduce the costs beyond traditional tape.

Spectra Logic

Spectra Logic, Boulder, Colo., is taking pre-purchase orders for LTO-7 drives for its Spectra TFinity and Spectra T950 libraries. The TFinity supports up to 120 tape drives and 50,100 slots for a total raw capacity of just more than 300 PB, or up to 751.5 PB of compressed capacity. Performance of the library reaches 2.7 TB per hour, per drive with compressed data.

Once the new drives are available, Spectra Logic will ship its entire tape library line, including its TFinity and T950, with LTO-7 technology. The company since this past spring has had a pre-purchase program in place to let customers purchase LTO-6 tape drives for use until LTO-7 becomes available for upgrade for what it calls "pennies on the dollar."

Sphere 3D

San Diego-based Sphere 3D, which in 2014 merged with Overland Storage, is shipping an entire family of its Overland Storage NEO Series tape libraries the company said will be available with LTO-7 technology by year-end.

These include the NEOs StorageLoader with eight slots, one tape drive and a 1U form factor; the NEOs T24 with 12 to 24 slots, one or two tape drives, and a 2U form factor; the NEOs T48 with 48 slots, up to four drives, and a 4U form factor; and the NEOxl 80, which scales to up to 560 slots and 42 drives.

The flagship NEO 8000e, targeting enterprise-class data centers with very large backup and archive requirements, scales from 100 to 1,000 slots and one to 24 tape drives, and features redundant power, redundant robotics and logical partitioning.