Fujifilm Won't Let Tape Storage Die: New LTO-8 Cartridges with 12TB/30TB capacity, 750 MBps Transfer Rate

One of the first things readers may be wondering when clicking on this article may be, tape backups are still viable in 2019? And that answer is a resounding "yes," in particular with large enterprises (not for home/consumers). To that end, Fujifilm has announced the general availability of the LTO-8 (Linear Tape-Open) data cartridge. The new cartridge can support 12TB native and 30TB compressed at a 2.5:1 ratio (compression ratios will vary by the data and other factors). The capacity doubles the previous generation LTO-7 volumes which the company says addresses the increasing need for high capacity, cost-effective and reliable long term storage.

While LTO-8 tapes are not new (LTO Ultrium 8 was released in 2017) it is good to see Fuji back in the game. The only two producers, Sony and Fuji, were tied up in a patent infringement lawsuit which stopped Sony from importing them to the US and Fuji, as late as June of 2019, saying they were not currently manufacturing LTO 8 and not selling them to that point. This created a shortage, but only effected those organizations which tend to quickly move to the higher capacity storage media. In the end, a higher-capacity tape allows customers to store more data and better utilize the existing footprint of the tape library. With real estate in Data Centers at an extreme premium, it can make sense to move to a higher capacity tape. 

History out of the way, the new LTO Ultrium 8 (Ultrium is the form factor) data cartridge is based on Fujifilm's nanocubic thin coating technology incorporating finer barium ferrite (BaFe) particles than in previous generations. The magnetic material features a high signal-to-noise ratio said to result in higher stability and the ability to store data for more than 50 years. Transfer speeds increased from 700 MB/s on LTO-7 up to 750 MB/s in LTO-8 for compressed data, and 360 MB/s (up from 300 MB/s) for uncompressed data. 

(Image credit: Wiki)

So what is the point? With more information being created in these large organizations, the need to back up more data then to be able to retrieve and use it is paramount for many of today's enterprise size and smaller companies. While there are direct-to-tape and hybrid (FLAPE) solutions available, the initial capital expenditure may be too much for a company to handle without significant lead time for planning and budgets. Additionally, the time, effort and cost to migrate data will also play a role. 

Fujifilm's LTO Ultrium 8 tapes are available now. 

Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • tbq
    How much does one of these tapes cost? Also how much are the drives?
  • McKinley Morganfield
    How can you use such an absurd title to this article ''Fujifilm won’t let Tape storage die’'???... The storage capacity delivered on tape is three times higher than that delivered ten years ago. The Gafam, the banks, the scientific research, the Broadcast, Cloud providers, hospitals, governments, industries are on tape ! The digitization of data coupled with new regulations on long-term data retention have generated a new application, a new demand, called "Data Archiving", and it is on this segment that tape is dominant, since it only has one competitor, optical technology. You could have said that the tape was not really needed in the 2000s when users archived their data on paper and made backups on tape or hard drives. You are a few years behind in your analysis of the situation. The real title of your article should have been: tape has finally met its natural market.
    Eventually, the only segment of the market where new tapes are still unknown is that of users who store less than 100-150TB of data. And there again, it's only a matter of time. In the space of 5 years, everything has changed in the world of storage tapes. The best way to highlight the technological revolution initiated by tape manufacturers such as Fujifilm and IBM is that you will not find another technology that has achieved in just 6 years and two generations such progress in performance: the storage capacity has been multiplied by 4.8 between the 2.5TB of LTO6 (2013) and the 12TB of LTO8 (2019). The write speed has doubled: 160MB/s for the LTO6 and 360MB/s for the LTO8. And the data integrity has been multiplied by 100: BER of 1X10(17) against 1X10(19). The Hard Disk is, now, far far behind in terms of modernity and performance. We cannot even compare the specifications of both technologies anymore.