Tape Storage

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LTO 8 tape drive offers flexibility and security with multiple key management/key store options to work in multiple environments

By JULIO (Juls) HERNANDEZ posted Sat March 10, 2018 06:46 PM

The Ultrium 8 tape drive is a new product designed for Open Systems backup and archive applications. Ultrium 8 is an LTO Generation 8 standard interchange device. The drive will be able to read tapes written by other Ultrium 8 licensee’s drives, and will be able to write tapes readable by other Ultrium 8 licensee’s drives. Ultrium 8 is designed for LTO automation (such as the IBM Tape Library models TS4500, TS4300, TS2900) and Complementary Storage Enclosures 7226 and Stand alone drive TS2280 models
The Ultrium 8 tape drive will be a new version of the Ultrium 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 tape drive generations, with new models and feature codes in support of tape product offerings. The Ultrium 8 tape drive will be offered in Fibre Channel and SAS attachment versions.
The Ultrium 8 Tape Drive is a high-performance, high-capacity tape drive. The drive records data using a linear serpentine recording format on half-inch tape housed within a cartridge. The data tracks are located using preformatted servo tracks.

Ultrium 8 is essentially double density version of IBM’s Ultrium 7 tape drive product. Ultrium 8 can store 2x as much data (12000 GB) to an LTO-type tape cartridge as the Ultrium 7 tape drive (6000 GB), without compression. Ultrium 8 will also be able to read and write Ultrium 7 cartridges, and thus can interchange data with Ultrium 7 tape drives. However, the Ultrium 8 drive will only allow an Ultrium 7 cartridge to be written at the LTO Generation 7 operating point (6000 GB), yet unlike prior generations read-only support for a 2nd generation media as LTO6 is no longer supported. The Ultrium 8 drive uses a new data cartridge that externally has the same physical dimensions as the Ultrium 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 cartridges.
The Ultrium 8 tape drive will support write once read many (WORM) operation on WORM cartridge types. The WORM cartridge types are geometrically identical to the R/W cartridge, and use the same rewritable media. The servo format which is mastered onto the tape at manufacturing is different for WORM cartridge types.

The Ultrium 8 tape drives will Support Encryption capability and compatibility on Ultrium 7 media. The IBM LTO Generation 8 tape drive will support the T10 Defined encryption capabilities for AME and out of band encryption. The IBM LTO Generation 8 tape drive also supports the IBM Proprietary Protocol AME and transparent encryption methods.The tape drive will interact with the SKLM interface as designed within the IBM LTO Generation 4 implementation and as defined in the users guide for the appropriate product.
It has the following characteristics:

- It utilizes AES-256 standards based strong symmetric data encryption with GCM formatting
- It utilizes a secret 256-bit Data Key to perform the encryption and decryption which is programmed to the hardware in a secure fashion by the drive control firmware. The key is not retrievable in any manner from the encryption core (even by the drive firmware which programmed it) and is automatically erased during the unload process
- It performs the encryption after host data is received and compressed and thus does not alter the compression ratio of incoming data. Encryption is done at full line speed in hardware in the tape device with no impact on throughput performance
- During write operations, it automatically decrypts after encrypting to provide on-the-fly checking that data is in fact encrypted correctly
- Can write and read the LTO7 Algorithms
- It can be bypassed to allow the writing of Generation 7 and Generation 8 format data tapes without encryption.
- No host processor MIPS are required as for software host-based encryption solutions
- As a built-in feature in the tape drive, the customer bears no additional cost nor additional external equipment reliability and maintenance impacts to implement the data encryption capability as would be required for external solutions

Blog prepared in collaboration with Javier Justo
STSM- LTO Technical Project Leader