Flash and Tape – A Perfect Pairing of Storage Technologies!

The need to have data at the fingertips of corporate managers, producers and consumers is increasing. Decisions must be made in a timely manner, which has led to the growing adoption of flash disk storage also known as Solid State Drives (SSD). This type of storage is utilized for hot data – data that requires rapid access. However, over time this type of data cools and needs a low cost and secure place to rest in case it is recalled. That place is LTO tape technology. In this BlogBytes, we discuss what makes SSD hot, what makes LTO tape perfect for cool and cold data and how these two technologies make the perfect storage pair.

What makes SSD Tick?

SSD’s are a nonvolatile storage device using integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently on solid state flash memory. As described in a SearchStorage article SSD’s are not hard drives in the traditional sense, as there are no moving parts involved. A traditional hard disk drive (HDD) consists of a spinning disk with a read/write head on a mechanical arm called an actuator. An SSD, on the other hand, has an array of semiconductor memory organized as a disk drive using integrated circuits. An SSD may also be referred to as a Solid State Disk. SSD can provide rapid input and output performance compared to HDDs. SSDs can be utilized as the primary target for very high performance jobs with HDD’s and tape as alternate targets. As the article points out, flash SSD has the ability to read data directly and immediately from a specific cell location. High-performance servers, laptops, desktops or any application that needs to deliver information in real-time or near real-time can benefit from solid state drive technology.  Eventually this data needs secure, low-cost, long-term preservation, which is where LTO technology comes in.

What makes LTO Tape the ideal SSD storage partner?

There is constant demand for fast data computation and retrieval. As hot data cools, it is less frequently accessed, but still needs to be retained in a safe, secure and economical way.

LTO-7 tape technology has the attributes that makes it an ideal storage tier to pair with primary tier SSDs.


  • Up to 15TBs of secure storage per cartridge compressed (6TB native) – that’s equivalent to over 2,000 DVDs and more than twice the capacity of LTO-6 technology.
  • Up to 750MBs per second of blazing backup speed per drive compressed (300MB/second native).
  • Support for tape drive hardware encryption and WORM tape to address security matters.
  • Previous generation compatibility – can read and write LTO-6 cartridges and read LTO-5 cartridges to protect investments.
  • Support for Linear Tape File System (LTFS), which helps make LTO tape easy to use in a manner like using disk. Simply drag and drop files to and from the tape.
  • In a 10 year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study by ESG, the annual TCO for an LTO tape scenario was estimated to have an 85 percent savings compared with a disk system scenario.

LTO-7 Specifications – A Closer Look

LTO tape’s secure, high-performance and low cost storage attributes are impressive. How are these outstanding specifications made possible? LTO-7 technology employs a 32 track head1 instead of 16 tracks as in previous generations and has an advanced servo format2 with an improved error correction code (ECC). The enhanced ECC allows for more tracks and increased linear density, which allows more bits per inch. These enhancements help improve performance, capacity and the bit error rate from the existing and notable 10E17 to a remarkable 10E19 for outstanding data integrity.

The pairing of flash SDD and LTO technology as part of your overall tiered storage strategy can help organizations make timely decisions as well as preserve data economically and safely for the long haul.

1A tape head is an assembly that includes elements to write and read data to and from the tape media.
2The LTO servo format uses servo bands pre-recorded on the tape media to position the tape head assembly. See “How it Works – Part 2” at LTO.org