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Definition: LTO

(Linear Tape Open) A family of open magnetic tape standards developed by HP, IBM and Quantum (formerly the Certance subsidiary of Seagate) that is licensed to third-party vendors. As of 2019, LTO is the only thriving tape cartridge format.

LTO cartridges contain an LTO-CM (LTO cartridge memory), which is a non-volatile EEPROM chip that stores location data and usage. The tape is drawn out of the cartridge to a non-removable take-up reel inside the drive.

Although LTO was introduced with a native capacity of only 100GB, multi-terabyte tapes followed. Starting with LTO-3, write once-read many (WORM) support was added, and LTO-4 built in hardware encryption (see table below). See WORM.

Ultrium Won Out
In 1998, two LTO formats were introduced: single-hub Ultrium and dual-hub Accelis. Sharing head, track layout and other features, the single-hub Ultrium was accepted, while Accelis never took off. For information, visit www.lto.org. See magnetic tape.

An LTO (Ultrium) Cartridge
The single-hub Ultrium is the only LTO format, and LTO and Ultrium are synonymous.

  Generation    Native         Hardware
    (year)     Capacity  WORM  Encryption

  LTO-8 (2017)  12.0TB     X       X
  LTO-7 (2015)   6.0TB     X       X
  LTO-6 (2012)   2.5TB     X       X
  LTO-5 (2010)   1.5TB     X       X
  LTO-4 (2007)   800GB     X       X
  LTO-3 (2005)   400GB     X
  LTO-2 (2003)   200GB
  LTO-1 (2000)   100GB