HP and Sony Corporation have announced an agreement to create the next generation Digital Audio Tape (http://www.datmgm.com/) format – the DAT 320 – providing improved performance and capacity over existing DAT drives.

HP and Sony are jointly developing the DAT or Digital Data Storage (DDS) standard, but will separately offer their own DAT 320 tape drives and cartridges. Similar to previous generations of DAT/DDS, the DAT 320 will be an open standard, which ensures partners can continue to obtain license rights.

Small and midsize businesses as well as enterprises with remote offices use tape to archive and back up data as a key component of their disaster recovery strategies. IDC forecasts the tape market will generate more than $1.4 billion in 2009.(1) The industry is experiencing healthy performance since tape provides SMBs with a cost-effective storage solution to handle the massive increase in digital data.

“The DAT 320 offers customers and partners a data protection solution that delivers unmatched performance and capacity,” said Bob Wilson, vice president and general manager, Storage Platforms Division, HP. “Combining the expertise of two industry leaders that share a legacy of delivering proven DAT/DDS technology will result in a new standard for tape archiving with the low cost of ownership and reliability DAT customers have grown to expect.”

“Demand for higher-capacity data backup and archiving continues to be important for small and midsize businesses and enterprise environments,” said Masayoshi Sugiyama, president, Chemical Device and Energy Business Group, and executive vice president of Sony Corporation. “Combining HP’s technical base, which includes six DAT generations, and Sony’s 50-year history in magnetic recording technology, including Metal Evaporated based media, will provide a compelling solution to meet the demands of higher-capacity and easy-to-manage data protection.”

Twice the capacity and performance

Businesses rely on the volume-leading DAT format to back up and restore critical business data. This provides protection against the loss of data in the case of events such as system failures, operator error, theft and natural disasters.

“Tape customers are concerned about outgrowing their existing tape drives and do not want to switch away from a cost-effective and trusted technology like DAT/DDS,” said Robert Amatruda, research director, Tape and Removable Storage, IDC. “The use of tape storage to support backup and archiving is very popular and the doubled capacity with the DAT 320 will be an ideal choice for small to midsize businesses who have limited space for extra hardware.”

With backup speeds of up to 86 gigabytes (GB) per hour with 2:1 data compression, the DAT 320 will offer up to 320 GB of capacity on a single cartridge – compared with 160 GB, available from the current DAT 160 format. The DAT 320 also will consume fewer watts per GB than previous generations and will be backwards compatible with the DAT 160.

Pricing and availability

HP and Sony will offer the same base hardware for the DAT 320, but will develop unique features within the firmware configuration to sell the DAT 320 tape drives and media through their own branded and OEM business channels.
More information about models, configurations, feature sets and prices will be announced by the companies separately. General availability is expected in 2009.
(1) IDC, “Market Analysis: At ‘If Sold OEM’ Values. Worldwide Tape Drive 2007-2011 Forecast and Analysis,” by Robert Amatruda, May 2007.