Just How Much Data is That?

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Quantum is leading the industry in making LTO-8 tape drives and media available in the Scalar® library portfolio. It’s easy to understand the new capacity of 12 TB per cartridge and data transfer rates of 360 MB/sec. But, there are other technical specifications that need more explanation—the most critical being data reliability.

A key value of the LTO format is data reliability. It’s attained by having a tape drive and media that are finely tuned with each other with the primary goal of never having a bad bit of data. Every time data is written to tape there is a read-after-write process that ensures that the data that was sent is what was recorded. LTO is designed to have multiple levels of error checking and correction that not only include the actual data blocks, but also include checking all the headers in LTO data format.

Starting with LTO-7 and now again with LTO-8, the data reliability specification has a bit error rate (BER) of 1 x 10-19. In plain words, this means that the drive and media will not allow a single bit error to go undetected/uncorrected with approximately 10 exabytes (EB) of data being stored. Yes, the measurement means that a single 1 or 0 that is incorrect will not go undetected in a huge amount of data.

It’s easy to toss around data storage capacities using gigabytes (GB), terabytes (TB), petabytes (PB), and now EB. But how much data is that? To help get your head around this number, here are a few examples of what 10 EB of data equates to:

  • 8 billion DVDs
  • 200 million Blu-ray discs
  • 100 million full-length 4K movies
  • 1,250 days (3.4 years) of YouTube video uploads
  • 833,333 LTO-8 tape cartridges

The media is just as important as the tape drive. To attain this level of data reliability, Quantum has established a certification process that exceeds basic LTO standards for Quantum-branded LTO media. Proper handling and storage of media is also a key factor in meeting this goal. Additional details about Quantum-certified media are explained in our white paper, Cloud-Ready Quantum Certified LTO Media.

Quantum’s portfolio of Scalar libraries includes integrated technology to collect statistics and provide management reports on LTO tape drives and media to ensure customers have as much information available as possible to proactively manage their tape drives and media.

Now that you understand just how immense 10 EB is using examples from the real world, the fact that LTO drives and media are rated to not allow a single bit to go bad with this huge amount of storage is simply amazing. This should put an end to the unfounded rumor that tape is unreliable!

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