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HP Releases Second-Gen Ultrium Drives

Hewlett-Packard Monday set the stage for another revolution in high-density and high-speed storage devices.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker said it has delivered qualification units of its second-generation StorageWorks Linear Tape-Open (LTO) Ultrium tape drive to six of its key system and library partners, who in turn will build the surrounding hardware.

The six partners include OEMs like Nearline Products, Overand Storage and Quantum Storage . "Being first to market with the second-generation Ultrium drives to our partners is a milestone in the execution of the open standard we are driving toward," said Nearline vice president of Products Frank Harbist. "With this announcement, HP is clearly positioned to deliver next-generation Ultrium tape drives that will permit StorageWorks customers to enjoy the significant advantages of this exceptionally reliable, high-performance tape technology before the end of the year."

HP said its first-generation tape drives could hold 100 GB native and 200 GB of compressed capacity. The company said the new boxes can store 400 GB of compressed data on a single cartridge in less than two hours. Customers are expected to get their first crack at the storage devices by the end of the year.

The networked devices are based on open-standards and are expected to include HP OpenView Storage Area Management software as its native operating system.

"During our evaluation of the second-generation HP Ultrium drives, we saw an exciting leap in performance, which we in turn are thrilled to be able to offer our customers," said Overland vice president Robert Scroop.

The debate between tape and disk storage devices rages on, with both camps certain their technology is foolproof. Redundant array of independent disk (RAID) systems are fast, but depend on writing to several disks. Tape is more long term and meets federal standards, but tends to run slower.

"Stop debating and embrace each methodology for what they do best (tapes for inexpensive snapshots over long periods) and disk for up to the minute protection of the data)," said NSI Software Director of Technical Marketing Jason Buffington. "And if you back up the data at the replicated facility, that is an 'off-site backup' without paying for courier services.

Either way, HP is leading the pack. LTO tape drives outsold Imation Super DLTtape ones with a 70 percent share in 2001 sales, according to research firm Gartner Dataquest.