On Sept. 7, 2021, Fujifilm Recording Media USA officially announced the launch — and crucially, the availability — of the Fujifilm LTO Ultrium 9 data cartridge.
The LTO-9 format is widely expected to supplant LTO-8 as the data tape cartridge of choice for enterprise archival storage. That process may take years; enterprise adoption of new tape formats can be slow due to the perceived (and real) costs of tape migration. Nevertheless, LTO-9 offers significant advantages over its predecessor:
LTO-9 offers 45 terabytes (TB) of compressed storage capacity and an 18TB native capacity. That’s a 50% increase from LTO-8’s 30TB compressed / 12TB native capacity.
LTO-9 offers data transfer speeds of 1,000 megabytes per second (MB/s) for compressed data (440 MB/sec native). For comparison, LTO-8 offered 750 MB/s compressed and 360 MB/sec native.
Like LTO-8, LTO-9 supports the LTFS filesystem, which allows for access to individual files — a potentially crucial consideration when using data tapes to protect against ransomware and other threats.
While LTO-9 is a major step forward for air-gapped storage media, the new format breaks with the tradition of the Linear Tape Open format: Previous generations doubled the capacity of their predecessors and typically doubled data access speeds.
LTO-9 offers a comparatively modest increase in capacity and performance. However, it’s still a substantial improvement; 45-terabyte cartridges can conceivably cut the cost of archival storage significantly for enterprises with large archival infrastructures. The improved read speeds are expected to have a dramatic effect during disaster recovery, electronic discovery, and other instances that require access at scale.