Tape storage continues to evolve: Maintain growth against the market in 2022

Although the narrative of ‘the death of tape storage’ has been proliferated for many years, its demise has never truly transpired. Despite sluggish data transmission speeds, storage solutions of commendable cost-effectiveness and reliability continue to advance. As reported by TomsHardware, the LTO Project Group, an expert consortium of tape companies comprising HPE, IBM, and Quantum, announced that shipments of tape storage products experienced a modest increase of 0.5% in 2022.

YoY shipments for LTO-based storage technology increased 40% from 2020 through 2021, and continued its growth in 2022 (albeit at a much more modest .5%)(Image credit: LTO Program)

While such an uptick may seem insignificant, it assumes a degree of positivity when juxtaposed against the backdrop of a 40% surge in 2021, compounded by the overall market contraction and declining demand observed in 2022. The latest reports reveal that the novel LTO-9 tape application is rapidly gaining traction. However, for users who prioritize value for money, LTO-8 remains an attractive option.

LTO-8 offers a compressed data capacity of 30TB and a transmission speed reaching 750MB/s, while LTO-9 has expanded its compressed data capacity to 45TB, enhancing the transmission speed to 1000MB/s. The total shipment volume of tapes has been on a declining trend, although this can be largely attributed to the escalating storage capacity of each tape. For instance, each LTO-9 tape provides 45TB of compressed data capacity, equivalent to thirty LTO-5 tapes, clearly indicating that the total volume of data storage outweighs the total shipment volume in terms of significance.

Recent reports suggest that mechanical hard drives may vanish from the market post-2028, a scenario that seems unlikely to materialize. In truth, the lifespan of technology often exceeds expectations, and the surge in Artificial Intelligence for unstructured data signifies an escalating demand for affordable, reliable, and capacious storage. The growth in LTO tapes, predominantly propelled by hyperscale enterprises, attests to this.