Fujifilm announces first 30TB LTO-8 tapes following patent settlement, import ban

Demand for tape backup remains strong, though sales were halted due to a recently settled patent dispute.

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Fujifilm announced their first commercial LTO-8 storage tape on Monday, in Japan. Given the rigid specifications of Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology, the Fujifilm LTO Ultrium8 Data Cartridge is simply a product built to spec. Like any LTO-8 product, it can store 12TB natively (or 30 TB compressed), with max speeds of 360 MB/s native, or 750 MB/s compressed.

The company touts the tapes as using Fujifilm's Barium Ferrite (BaFe) paramagnetism coating process for long-term storage. The tapes are available in standard and 20-tape economy packs, as well as in a WORM (write once, read many) variant.

SEE: Top five on-premises cloud storage options (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Notably, Fujifilm is one of two remaining LTO tape manufacturers, and had been embroiled in a patent lawsuit with Sony (their sole competitor). Fujifilm initially sued Sony over patent licensing, prompting a countersuit, which resulted in a US import ban—of LTO products (including some last-generation, LTO-7 cartridges) from both manufacturers in March. During that time, Fujifilm had not started manufacturing or selling LTO-8 cartridges, despite the standard being released in December 2017.

This import ban resulted in widespread shortages of Sony's LTO-8 tapes (which are also rebadged by vendors), and a stopgap LTO-7 Type M solution—essentially using LTO-8 standards with LTO-7 media to squeeze an extra 3TB of capacity—which complicates device lifecycles, as LTO-9 drives will be unable to read these tapes. This potentially puts users of tape systems in the precarious position of operating drives unsupported by the manufacturer.

Although Sony and Fujifim are the remaining manufacturers of LTO media, the corresponding drives needed to read or write data are sold by IBM, Quantum, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 

With increased enthusiasm for all-flash arrays, the traditional platter hard disk drive (HDD) market has shrunk to only three, with HGST's 3.5" disk drive business sold to Toshiba as part of regulatory requirements for their merger with Western Digital. While 4-level/cell (QLC) and 5-level/cell (PLC) will do more to meet capacity demands, these technologies do not put Flash storage on track to reach parity with HDDs, likewise, these also come at a significant cost, as write endurance decreases as density increases. 

For more, check out "Seagate leads in disk drive deployments, failures in Backblaze report" and "Can Toshiba's XL-FLASH SLC compete with Intel in the storage-class memory market?" on TechRepublic.

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Reflection of Blue, Orange and Yellow  Cartridges (placed on wid

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