LTO-9 Full Height vs. Half Height: What’s the Difference?

As was true with other generations of the Linear Tape Open (LTO) format, LTO-9 hardware is available in two drive types: Full Height and Half Height.

The obvious difference between the two options is the physical size, and if you’re purchasing for a data center, that’s certainly crucial. Full Height drives occupy 2 rack units (2U), while Half Height drives are — you guessed it — 1U. 

The other major difference is performance:

  • LTO-9 Full Height drives can attain a native performance of around 400 megabytes per second (MBps) or 1000 MBps compressed.
  • LTO-9 Half Height drives can attain a native performance of around 300 MBps or 500 MBps compressed. 

These numbers are estimates of peak performance; tape drive manufacturers promote different claims for the performance capabilities of their Full/Half height products. 

Both Full and Half Height LTO-9 drives are backwards-compatible with LTO-8 cartridges. Note that throughput will be limited by the format (in other words, LTO-9 drives can read LTO-8 tapes, but at LTO-8 speeds). 

How Realistic Are LTO-9 Transfer Speeds?

It’s certainly possible to reach the peak speeds advertised by manufacturers — but in practice, this may be rare. 

Depending on the amount of data you’re transferring, the type of data, IP network overhead, and various other factors, you might expect to reach around 50% of the LTO-9’s throughput capacity on most days. A sustained throughput of 400 MBps would be rare, outside of highly specific applications. 

But tape drive hardware plays a crucial role in determining throughput. LTO-9 Full Height drives may be well worth the investment for enterprise data centers, as their faster speeds can greatly reduce the cost of the system over time. 

Related: Planning an LTO-9 Migration Strategy

LTO-9 Tape Migration: Planning the Project

One of the challenges of tape data migration is sourcing sufficient hardware, particularly if you’re moving from formats without cross-compatibility. Your goal is to migrate key datasets to the new format as efficiently as possible — while maintaining appropriate security/privacy controls, and without overburdening your IT staff. 

Total Data Migration can help. Our experts have decades of experience with digital storage media, and with support for thousands of combinations of tape cartridge and backup software, we provide flexible resources for planning (and executing) a migration. 

If you’re considering a switch to LTO-9 — or if you’ve already invested in the project — send us a message. Call (800) 460-7599 to schedule a free consultation or click here for email contact info.