TheRegister’s Chriss Mellor has an interesting article today on the future of the beloved LTO tape format. What has become somewhat of an ubiquitous item in many HPC centers may be going away. According to Chris’s evaluation, the LTO tape format has no concrete roadmap beyond version 6 in 2012. So what, right? Well, wrong. Large supercomputing centers have an increasing volume of archived data. Large centers that currently depend on LTO tape drives in their library devices, such as Argonne and NASA Ames, can generate 8PB or more of data per year.
What are NASA Ames, Argonne and other supercomputer and large scale enterprise LTO users expected to do? They’ll keep on growing data. We could soon be looking at double digit petabytes being generated annually by large supercomputer users – indeed, CERN’s LHC project is already looking at 15PB/year.
Are they meant to stay on a 3TB LTO 6 cartridge tape format and see the number of tapes they need to cope with the increased amounts of data rocket up, while data write and read times steadily lengthen because 168MB/sec is too slow?
He has a real point. The two largest tape manufacturers, IBM and HP, don’t currently have a serious roadmap for LTO-6 and LTO-7. If you or your organization have a significant amount of cash tucked into an archive system based on LTO, you might want to bring this up with your respective vendor. For more info, read Chris’s full article here.