by May 8, 2004 0 comments

This tape drive offers 300 GB (uncompressed) of backup capacity on a single SDLT-II tape. However the formatted capacity of the tape is only 278 GB. It also offers high data backup speeds. As per its specs, it can backup data with a sustained transfer rate of 36MB per sec, meaning you can backup a single tape to its full capacity in slightly more than two hours. For backward compatibility the drive can also read (but not write to) SDLT-I and DLT VS-1 tapes. The media durability of SDLT-II is 1,000,000 head passes and an archival life of 30 years. The unit that came to us for testing had a SCSI interface, but fiber channel interface is also available.

We tested the drive on an IBM eServer x225 with dual 2.4 GHz Xeon, 512 MB RAM, IBM Ultra 320 SCSI 10K RPM drive and Win 2000 SP4. We used CA’s Brightstor Arcserve backup software and tested the drive for backup transfer rate for a data set taken from our production file server. We measured the rate of restoring this data to the hard disk, and did a stream test in which we backed up a single 1 GB file to the tape. We compared the drive with HP and IBM LTO drives reviewed in our November 2003 issue (page 90). Both drives had a tape capacity of 200 GB and sustained transfer rates of 30MB per sec and 35 MB per sec for HP and IBM, respectively.

In backing up real world data the SDLT 600 achieved a transfer rate of 33.56 MB per sec, which is close to its rated speed. HP and IBM drives clocked 25 MB per sec and 19.7MB per sec, respectively. While in restoring that data the transfer rate was 26.85 MB per sec. The HP and IBM measured 13.11 MB per sec and 14.2 MB per sec, respectively. In stream transfer rate test, the Quantum SDLT achieved 35.4MB per sec, which is almost equal to its rated speed of 36 MB per sec. The HP and IBM managed 25.7 MB per sec and 31.2 MB per sec, respectively, making the Quantum SDLT really fast in both data backup and restoration.

For management of the drive, Quantum provides DLTSage software, downloadable from the website. There are two versions of the software, one which connects to the drive via its SCSI interface and the other connects via an IR connection. The IR version is also available for Win CE Pocket PC. However the Windows version will only work with IR ports connected to the COM port of your PC. So you can’t use USB or in-built IR ports. Nonetheless, the SCSI based software is pretty informative as it gives detailed reports about the drive and also has a health check test for the drive.

The drive offers maximum capacity and highest speed till now for single tape drives. It is also priced competitively at Rs 336,000, as the HP and IBM drives when we reviewed them were priced at Rs 379,560 and Rs 315,000 respectively. The drive can also be considered as a replacement for low capacity DDS and DLT tape autoloaders, which have slots for holding multiple tapes and a robotic arm to load tapes in the drive.

Anoop Mangla

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