US storage large Western Digital already covers SSD, reminiscence playing cards, RAM and exhausting disk drives and has dipped its toes in DNA information storage (it’s a founding member of the DNA Knowledge Storage Alliance).
Now, newly-unearthed patents seem to indicate that the corporate could wish to (re) add tape to finish its present media portfolio after the sun-setting of its Arkeia product vary a number of years in the past.
The corporate was lately assigned various patents mentioning “tape embedded drive” in recent times:
- 11393498 (PDF) (head meeting with suspension system for a tape embedded drive)
- 20200258544 (PDF) (Tape embedded drive)
- 11081132 (PDF) Tape embedded drive with HDD parts
- And some extra
What this alludes to is the intriguing risk of getting the essential parts of a tape drive merged with the precise tape media in a bid to scale back the inherent environmental and technological complexity of tape libraries in addition to bettering the entry time by at the very least one order of magnitude.
Having the learn and write heads nearer to the media in an enclosed type issue is nothing new. That’s what exhausting disk drives do and what others, most notably Iomega with its Zip Drive, has tried to do previously. Western Digital’s patent suggests adopting a standardized type issue, 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch, for simpler adoption by information facilities and hyperscalers.
The fee issue
An embedded tape would nonetheless be dearer than a standard one (LTO-9 tapes retail for about $130 a pop) due to the additional electronics however you don’t want a tape drive to get began. So long as it sits someplace between tapes ($4 per TB) and enterprise exhausting drives ($20 per TB), there might be a big marketplace for it.
A normal LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape is 102 x 105 x 21mm whereas your common 3.5-inch exhausting drive is about 147 x 101 x 26mm whereas weighing a couple of quarter of the load. LTO-9 has a compressed capability of 45TB (18TB uncompressed) with the following era – prone to come within the second half of this decade – doubling in capability (clearly, there is likely to be some changes because it was the case going from Gen 8 to Gen 9).
A sealed LTO-based tape drive would doubtless be lighter, cheaper, devour/dissipate much less energy but additionally have extra onboard compute capabilities than your customary exhausting disk. Thicker and wider tape reels would additionally permit far greater capacities (LTO-9 makes use of 1Km of tape with a 5.2µm thickness and 12.65mm width).
Western Digital is uniquely positioned to transform this right into a workable actuality particularly as it will possibly use its experience in exhausting drive parts. That new tape may, all issues thought of, use an identical PCB and interface as an enterprise exhausting disk drive; it doesn’t must have the standard tape look.
Maybe the most important problem is to take this novel strategy to tape to the LTO consortium, a company that oversees the event of LTO and includes IBM, HPE and Quantum, all of whom could have completely different business methods that require having an costly drive and low-cost tapes.