Sep 9, 2020 | Other

Specifications Include up to 45TB Capacity*

SILICON VALLEY, CALIF. — (September 9, 2020) — Today, the LTO Program Technology Provider Companies (TPCs), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and Quantum, announced the specifications of LTO Ultrium format generation 9, which are now available for licensing.

The new LTO generation 9 specifications are designed to increase tape cartridge capacity from the previous generation, with capacities of up to 45TB* per cartridge when compressed. LTO generation 9 specifications include previously introduced features, such as multi-layer security support via hardware-based encryption, WORM (Write-Once, Read-Many) functionality and support for Linear Tape File System (LTFS). The new LTO generation 9 specifications include full backward read and write compatibility with LTO generation 8 cartridges.

These features help LTO tape maintain its unique position of a powerful, scalable, and adaptable open tape storage format that can provide more confidence for safe and secured offline storage, particularly in helping to prevent the impact of increasing cyberattacks. Offline storage – which creates an inherent “air-gap” that protects data from online predators – is essential to help mitigate increasingly sophisticated ransomware and malware threats that may corrupt live, backup, and archive data.

LTO media has doubled in capacity approximately every 2.3 years since the first generation was launched twenty years ago. For LTO generation 9, the LTO Program elected to balance the cost and benefit of technology within the specification offering an 18TB tape cartridge – a 50% increase in capacity from the previous generation** – to address the current market for storage space. A new roadmap has been established with the goal to double capacity in each generation moving forward.

“We are very excited at the future for LTO technology, and with increased capacity we are catering to the current and future market requirements for data storage”, said Chris Powers, Vice President of Collaborative Platforms Development and Big Data, at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “We continue to improve the core technology every generation, as tape is one of the most reliable and cost-effective storage solutions to retain data while keeping it safe from ransomware and other cyberattacks”.

In experiments in the IBM Research Zurich Lab, researchers have successfully achieved 330TB of uncompressed data on a palm-sized tape cartridge – a record volume that is equivalent to about 330 million books.

According to the INSIC tape technology roadmap, the potential for tape technology to meet robust capacity predictions over the next decade shows a clear advantage to HDD technologies ***. Current LTO and enterprise tape drives operate at areal densities that are about two orders of magnitude less than the latest HDD. That means it is possible to continue increasing capacity of tape technology at historical rates for at least the next decade***.

For instance, recent 18TB disk product must use 1022 Gb/in2 vs the latest 18TB LTO-9 cartridge that only uses 12Gb/in2. That means that LTO-9 tape can achieve the same capacity with only 1/85th of the areal density than that of same capacity disk. Simply put, tape has much more recoding area compared to disk and will be able to expand further in the years to come, according to INSIC. The combination of tape area and the ability to increase areal densities is the main reason why tape will continue to enjoy the 40%/year capacity growth.

“Given its long history of use and a solid path for future innovation, tape still has a significant role to play in the modern data center and in hybrid topologies,” says Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at ESG. “Tape’s role is shifting, which further enhances its value. Other than archiving massive data sets for active archives or longer retention at low cost, tape has the ability to create an isolated and “air-gapped” layer. This emerging use case is perfect for keeping data out of reach of cyber-attackers.”

The latest generation of LTO tape technology, LTO generation 8, supports tape cartridge storage compressed capacity of up to 30TB*.

To learn more about LTO technology, visit and follow the LTO Program on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How to License LTO Ultrium Technology
The LTO Program has historically offered several different license packages – from enhanced packages that provide the specifications and licenses to manufacture LTO Ultrium products, to basic packages providing LTO format specifications.

Buyers seeking LTO Ultrium format-compliant products should look for the LTO Ultrium format compliance verification trademarks on both tape drives and data cartridges. Storage and media manufacturers interested in licensing LTO formats may obtain information by contacting the LTO Program at

About the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) Format
The LTO Ultrium format is a powerful, scalable, adaptable open tape format developed and continuously enhanced by technology providers Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, IBM Corporation and Quantum LTO Holdings, LLC (and their predecessors) to help address the growing demands of data protection in the midrange to enterprise-class server environments. This ultra- high capacity generation of tape storage products is designed to deliver outstanding performance, capacity and reliability combining the advantages of linear multi-channel, bi- directional formats with enhancements in servo technology, data compression, track layout, and error correction. LTO Ultrium format is licensed to, and compliant products are made by, multiple manufacturers; their production is not limited to one sole proprietor.


The LTO Ultrium format has a well-defined roadmap for growth and scalability. The roadmap represents intentions and goals only and is subject to change or withdrawal. There is no guarantee that these goals will be achieved. The roadmap is intended to outline a general direction of technology and should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision. Format compliance verification is vital to meet the free-interchange objectives that are at the core of the LTO Program. Ultrium tape mechanism and tape cartridge interchange specifications are available on a licensed basis. For additional information on the LTO Program, visit and the LTO Program Web site at


*Assuming a 2.5:1 compression achieved with larger compression history buffer available beginning with LTO generation 6 drives.
** LTO 8 offers 12 TB Native cartridge capacity improved 50% by LTO 9, which support 18 TB. Also, LTO 8 offers 30 TB compressed cartridge capacity improved 50% by LTO 9. which supports 45 TB.
*** INSIC, INSIC Tape Technology update and Linear Tape-Open (LTO) White paper, September 2019
Note: Linear Tape-Open, LTO, the LTO logo, Ultrium, and the Ultrium logo are trademarks of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, IBM and Quantum in the US and other countries.