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Quantum Seeks SDLT Salvation

Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS) -- which has suffered setbacks in its core tape drive business in recent quarters -- is banking on the launch of its latest Super Digital Linear Tape (SDLT) drive, the 600, to return it to dominance in the midrange tape space (see Quantum Ships SDLT 600).

The SDLT 600 provides 72 MByte/s compressed transfer rate and 600 GB compressed capacity. That finally gives SDLT the specs to beat its primary competitor in the midrange tape drive space, Linear Tape Open (LTO), on capacity, and roughly match its performance. The second generation of LTO, which is currently available in the market, provides compressed throughput of up to 80 MByte/s and compressed capacity of 400 GB per cartridge.

Analysts give the SDLT 600 technology the thumbs up, saying it will give Quantum the opportunity to recapture the momentum in the market.

"From the standpoint of the implementation, it's fabulous -- no question about it," says Robert Amatruda, IDC's research manager for tape and removable storage. "This is much more appropriate to be placed inside libraries and tape subsystems... The link between SDLT 600 and automation partners is key."

Over the past two years, Quantum has lost a significant share to LTO, a technology jointly supported by Certance LLC, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). The LTO consortium has been able to beat Quantum to market with deliver greater capacity and performance (see Quantum Tapes Up Roadmap).

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