The LTO Roadmap: Breaking the Petabyte Barrier

The Linear Tape Open (LTO) Program plans on surpassing the 1-petabyte (PB) barrier by 2032, addressing the growing global need for high-capacity data storage solutions. The LTO Program is a joint effort at maintaining and developing linear tape standards. The organization includes representatives from Hewlett Packard Enterprise , IBM, and Quantum Corporation.

This year, much of the organization’s efforts have focused on adoption of the LTO-9, which delivers an 18-terabyte (TB) native capacity and a compressed capacity of up to 45 TB. That’s an improvement over LTO-8’s 12TB/30TB capacity, but the primary benefit of LTO-9 is the cartridge’s faster data transfer rates (up to 400 MBps with 2.5:1 compression). 

Like previous generations of LTO Ultrium, LTO-9 is backwards-compatible with LTO-8, which makes the format an attractive option for enterprises that need to update their backup/archive strategies. 

But in the future, LTO generations will need to offer significantly increased capacities to meet growing global data storage requirements.  

The LTO Roadmap: Doubling Capacity with Each New Generation

Previous generations of LTO have doubled the capacity of the previous generation. That changed with LTO-9, but the LTO Program insists that future generations will resume doubling the previous generation’s storage.

According to the current LTO Roadmap:

  • LTO-10 will feature a native capacity of up to 36 TB and a compressed capacity of up to 90 TB.
  • LTO-11 will feature a native capacity of up to 72 TB and a compressed capacity of up to 180 TB.
  • LTO-12 will feature a native capacity of up to 144 TB and a compressed capacity of up to 360 TB.
  • LTO-13 will feature a native capacity of up to 288 TB and a compressed capacity of up to 720 TB.
  • LTO-14 will feature a native capacity of up to 576 TB and a compressed capacity of up to 1.4 PB.

While the LTO Roadmap is subject to change, the Program expects to surpass 1 petabyte per cartridge by 2032. 

And that may not be wishful thinking: Back in 2020, IBM and Fujifilm demonstrated a linear tape with an areal density of 317 gigabits per square inch. That set a record in tape storage — and demonstrated that areal densities can continue to grow substantially with investments in technology.

To reach the milestone, Fujifilm developed strontium ferrite (SrFe), which could allow future linear tapes to maintain high areal density while maintaining acceptable read/write speeds.

The Global Tape Storage Market Continues to Grow

The data tape industry has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. Enterprises will need robust solutions for their growing storage needs — and modern tape formats can address those needs.

“LTO tape is more relevant than ever as low-cost, sustainable storage for long-term data archiving, and as a secure data storage option for strengthening cybersecurity,” says Sam Werner, VP, Storage Product Management at IBM, in a press release

“With specifications now defined through generation 14, LTO tape is poised to support rapid and accelerating data growth. It offers organizations a sustainable, reliable, and low-cost solution to protect and store their critical business data.”

Creating Secure Strategies for Tape Migration

Of course, organizations must plan tape migration projects carefully — and form long-term strategies for switching to new formats. 

As tape capacities grow, each cartridge will pose greater potential security risks, which can be exposed during migration. And while IT teams may have extensive experience with legacy formats, migration will require more resources with each successive generation. 

Total Data Migration assists enterprises in creating sustainable, cost-effective strategies for tape backups and archives. If you’re planning on switching to LTO-9 — or adjusting your disaster recovery strategy to address the threat of ransomware — we’re here to help. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.