HP & Sony Dive Into DAT

Sony makes its return to the world of DAT and plans high-capacity drive with HP

July 16, 2008

3 Min Read
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HP and Sony have joined forces around Digital Audio Tape (DAT), developing high-capacity drives aimed at bolstering small business backups.

The ‘S’ side of the SMBs typically only have one server,” says Bob Wilson, vice president of HP’s storage platforms division, explaining that firms are now looking for higher capacity DAT technology for backup. “You’re doing backup for one server with the DAT drive - that could be integrated into a tower server, or integrated into the rack above the server.”

Under the terms of today’s deal, HP and Sony will jointly develop 320-Gbyte DAT drives, which they will both sell under their respective brands. Wilson explains that the DAT 320 will offer double the capacity of HP’s existing 160-Gbyte DAT drives.

The maximum capacity offered by HP’s DAT rival Quantum is also 160 Gbytes, although users are now looking for higher capacity DAT drives, prompted by the ongoing data explosion.

"I think that customers are looking for any ability to manage their ever-increasing amount of data that is being generated," says Robert Amatruda, research director at analyst firm IDC.In addition to individual server backups, HP’s Wilson told Byte and Switch that the DAT 320 could be well suited to a host of other data-intensive applications.

“That could be video surveillance and data exchange for things like rich media where you have very, very large files,” he says. “But its primary application is backup of small servers.”

The DAT 320 is expected to be generally available in 2009, although neither HP nor Sony has released pricing details.

“We’re not releasing pricing at this point, but we tend to target a similar price point as the previous generation because we’re targeting a similar customer,” says Wilson, adding that the DAT 160 has a list price of around $1,000 and a street price between $700 and $800.

DAT drives, with their 3.5 inch form factor, are significantly smaller than 5.25 inch LTO drives, which are also sold by HP. Although the small form factor drives are well suited to businesses with space limitations, DAT typically has lower capacities and slower data transfer rates than LTO.”LTO is much more of an enterprise-class product,” says Wilson, explaining that high-end LTO drives can go up to 1.6 Tbytes. “We clearly position DAT under LTO.”

IDC's Amatruda told Byte and Switch that, despite today's capacity hike, DAT is unlikely to ever challenge LTO.

"Largely, DDS/DAT is not a product that has been automated with gusto, whereas LTO has, for things like tape libraries," he says. "That's the whole separating part of it."

Today’s announcement also marks Sony’s return to the DAT market after a hiatus of around five years, while the vendor waited for DAT and its Digital Data Storage (DDS) standard to develop.

“We identified limitations facing the DDS technology and its ability to address coming market needs, such as, storage growth rates and the need for higher capacity, higher reliability, and faster transfer rates,” says a Sony spokeswoman.Specifically, Sony was waiting for the standard width of DAT tape to develop beyond 4mm, enabling greater storage capacities and higher performance.

“Now that the DDS/DAT format has migrated to an 8mm form factor - it is clear that the DAT format is again aligned with Sony’s vision and technology direction,” says the spokeswoman.

The Sony exec also explains that DAT 320 will use what is known as a Metal Evaporated (ME)-based media formulation, a recording media that was originally developed for 8 mm video. An advanced version of ME formulation was used on Sony’s own Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) offerings, she adds.

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  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IDC

  • Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM)

  • Sony Corp.0

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