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One million TB: Here’s the world’s highest capacity tape library

(Image credit: Spectra)

The arrival of LTO-9 tape, albeit with a lower 18TB capacity, means that tape library systems are set for a bumper upgrade.

Spectra Logic, a well known provider of tape systems to organizations including McDonalds and NASA, has taken up the challenge with its TFinity Exascale tape library.

The library has been upgraded to LTO-9 technology and now offers just over one Exabyte of native storage - that’s 1,000PB or 1,000,000TB. To match it, you would need around 56,000 18TB hard disk drives (like the Seagate IronWolf Pro), which would cost about $26 million without a chassis to house them.

The storage solution can scale up to 144 drives with an army of robot arms and has access to 56,400 LTO slots in all. At full capacity, it can transfer data at a staggering 207.4TB per hour (57.6GBps or 461Gbps).

And that’s before you account for compression, which can improve storage capacity and data transferred by up to 2.5x. Speeds will vary enormously based on the media being processed, but anything that isn't video, images or audio is likely to be easily compressed.

Tape is growing in popularity at the very low end of the cloud storage market, where its unique security features (air gap and WORM) and unbeatable price per unit storage make it a very attractive proposition.

LTO is not the only tape tech in town that matters though; IBM's TS11X0 and Oracle’s T10000X are two rival enterprise tape technologies that can work alongside LTO in the TFinity Exascale tape library.