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Symply Expands Disk, Tape and Cloud Product Offering for Media and Entertainment at NAB 2024

Symply announces SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries with the industry’s widest range of integrated interface options, including Ethernet and Thunderbolt 3; SymplySPARK 4-bay Desktop Transportable RAID; and SymplyAURA, a high-density Object Storage Appliance.

Visit Symply at NAB Show 2024 Las Vegas, Booth SL5135

Las Vegas – April 11th, 2024 – Symply, an innovative developer of high-speed digital storage and archive solutions, announced the expansion of their award-winning Disk, Tape and Cloud product portfolio.  With the release of SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries, new ultra-compact SymplySPARK and SPARK XT 4-bay Desktop Transportable RAIDs, and a single-server scalable object storage appliance, SymplyAURA.

SymplyPRO XTL Tape Library solutions have been engineered to suit all requirements from small compact entry level libraries -to- enterprise-class modular tape libraries. Equipped with an industry leading choice of interfaces including SAS, Fibre Channel, and uniquely Ethernet, and Thunderbolt 3, SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries are designed to seamlessly integrate into customers’ infrastructure.

Built on field-proven technology trusted by some of the world’s largest organizations, SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries offer support for the latest LTO generations, including LTO-7, LTO-8, and LTO-9 with configurations available from compact 8-slot to enterprise-class 80-slot models. Modular 40- and 80-slot libraries simplify the process of expanding storage capacity and adding LTO drives as needs evolve. All SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries come backed by an industry-leading 3-year warranty, ensuring reliable performance and peace of mind for our customers.

SymplySPARK 4-bay Desktop Transportable RAID is built on the hugely popular SymplySPARK 8-bay Thunderbolt 3 RAID.  The new 4-bay model is even more compact and transportable, whilst remaining rugged and whisper quiet.  Smaller than its peers, SPARK 4-bay models incorporate a robust carry handle for easy handling while featuring full user serviceability of HDDs, the fan and power supply.

The award-winning SPARK XT is also available in the new 4-bay form-factor, incorporating the latest Seagate MACH.2 18TB multi-actuator drives and providing performance that would normally be associated with competitive 8-bay products. This unparalleled throughput is truly game changing, reducing the need to trade off capacity and increased costs for SSD solutions, enabling users to be more productive by dramatically increasing the speed at which content can be backed up from camera cards on set.  The SymplySPARK and SPARK XT 4-bay models come with an industry leading 5-year warranty as standard.

SymplyAURA represents a breakthrough in data management and protection, offering a single-server appliance solution designed to meet the evolving needs of modern enterprises. AURA empowers customers to swiftly deploy a “plug & play” S3 object storage repository, catering to both active archive and backup requirements with unparalleled efficiency and security.  Built on16th-gen software and deployed and orchestrated on integrated Kubernetes, AURA ensures reliability and performance. Unlike other appliance offerings in the market that are purposely limited in their scalability, AURA can start with a single appliance and customers can scale capacity via the addition of appliances as required, with no software or hardware-imposed limitations.

“We’re excited to expand our Disk, Tape and Cloud portfolio in line with our customers’ needs” said Keith Warburton, CEO at Symply. “Customers were having to look elsewhere for certain solutions and weren’t receiving the quality of product and level of support they had been accustomed to with Symply. Our new SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries with their native connectivity options, alongside 4-bay SPARK models and AURA object storage for private cloud deployments, show we are always listening to our customers.”

Symply will be showing SymplyPRO XTL Tape Libraries, SymplySPARK, and SymplyAURA alongside their existing Disk, Tape and Cloud portfolio at NAB Show Las Vegas, 13th to 17th April at booth SL5135. More information about the company is available at

About Symply (

Pioneers in Modern Data Storage Solutions. Since our inception in 2016, Symply has been dedicated to revolutionizing digital data storage for the media and entertainment industry. Our journey began with a simple philosophy: to design and build the most innovative workflow-enhancement and storage solutions available.

At Symply, we recognized early on that traditional data storage solutions were failing to keep pace with the evolving needs of modern businesses. With data sizes expanding exponentially and teams becoming increasingly decentralized, the demands on storage infrastructure have never been greater. That’s why we’ve taken a forward-thinking approach, focusing not just on what businesses want, but on what they truly need.

Follow and connect with us on LinkedInYouTubeInstagramFacebook and X for more information.

Press Contact: 

Roman Minalto  | +44 1223 228019
Unit 7 Kings Court 
CB4 2PF, UK 

How to backup and archive from a QNAP NAS with SymplyPRO LTO and Archiware P5 

QNAP is well known for providing on-premises network-attached storage and innovative software solutions. Although all the QNAP can protect against data loss from failed drives, and also QNAP supports replication between local and remote systems, by adding LTO to their environments customers can further protect against data loss, and free up capacity by archiving cold data. 

The causes of data loss take many forms, corrupted data or file systems, failed drives or devices, sadly malicious and ransomware attacks are increasingly common, and of course, there is always good old human error. LTO (Linear Tape Open) is an excellent long-time storage strategy, it is highly resilient and open format and has an extremely low cost, and carbon footprint, but critically it provides an “air-gap” to protect against ransomware and other malicious attack. 

Check out this video from QNAP to see how easy it is to add cost-effective air-gapped data protection to their NAS with the addition of SymplyPRO SAS LTO and Archiware P5. 

In fast-paced archive settings like media & entertainment, medical, and engineering industries, achieving quick and dependable data storage and retrieval is crucial. Addressing the challenges of timely archiving and restoration requires a solution that boosts both speed and reliability. That’s where Symply’s recommendation of LTO-9 Full Height drives shines. 

Symply offers the broadest range of Full Height LTO-9 drive technologies tailored for various industries, available in different forms such as Thunderbolt 3, SAS, and 10Gb Ethernet connectivity options for both desktop and rack solutions. Full Height drives are specifically engineered for superior performance in environments that demand faster motors and larger data buffers. These enhancements not only accelerate search speeds but also minimize data access time. 

Moreover, the robust loading mechanism of these drives can handle heavy load/unload cycles, making them ideal for intensive read/write operations such as Production (On-Set) Archive, Active Archive, HSM, and more. This reliability and performance make LTO-9 Full Height drives the optimal choice for industries requiring steadfast data handling capabilities. 

Full Height vs Half Height Drives, What’s the Difference? 

Symply provide LTO-9 in both Full Height and Half Height form factors, so let’s have a look at the key differences.  

As you can see the primary difference between LTO-9 Full-Height and Half Height drives is the performance, with the Full Height drive providing an extra 100MB/Sec of throughput with LTO-9 media and giving an extra 60MB/Sec with LTO-8 media in a Full Height LTO-9 drive. 

The specifications also show the difference between the loader mechanism, with the number of load and unload cycles that the respective drives support. Demonstrating the additional robustness of the Full-Height drive. 

What Makes the Full-Height Drive Different? 

For LTO drives, a bigger form factor is better, and brings the following 5 advantages… 

  1. Larger Motors for Performance and Reliability.  The larger form factor of the Full-Height Drives allows for larger motors providing a higher performance in terms of both throughput and seek time.  The larger motors also operate a lower percentage of their designed maximum load making them more reliable.  The additional space within the LTO drive also allow for better cooling efficiency. 
  1. Faster Media Movement and Acceleration.  The faster motors and additional space at the tape heads all Full Height drives allows for the fast movement of the tape media through the drive.  Improving the seek time both forwards and backwards through the tape media.
  1. Greater Tolerance to Vibration and Shock.  The Full Height drive has a much more robust base plate, that aids the structural integrity of the drive, increasing the drive resilience shock and vibration.  
  1. Higher Cartridge Insertion Force Tolerance.  The loading mechanisms on the Full Height drives can handle a significantly greater insertion force.  Although originally designed to better support LTO automation, the mechanism’s robustness is equally advantageous in standalone desktop and rackmount scenarios. 
  1. Higher Performance. As we have seen Full Height Drives provide a higher throughput compared to Half-Height drives.  The combination of larger motors and a better mechanical fabrication make the Full Height drives as a future-proof choice for sustained high-performance applications. 

What makes Full Height Drives a Better Choice for High-Performance Environments? 

While both FH and HH versions share common characteristics, the distinctive features of Full Height LTO-9 tape drives make them the superior choice for demanding environments and specific use cases. The advantages in reliability, performance, and durability of Full Height drives as the preferred solution, where efficiency and speed are paramount. 

Consider that using and LTO-9 Full Height drive instead of a Half-Height LTO-9 drive provides an extra 100MB/Sec of uncompressed performance. Over a period of say an 8-hour working day, it is possible to archive and extra 2.88TB (or an additional 8.64TB in 24hrs).  In a demanding high throughput environment where deadlines are always tight, the performance and reliability advantages of Full Height drives can make all the difference. 

The advantages of Full-Height LTO-9 technology are too good to be only the preserve of automated tape libraries, so Symply decided to bring the technology benefits to a wider audience by creating a series of world’s first products.  Including the first Thunderbolt 3AS connected FH LTO-9 Drive and the first 10Gb Ethernet-connected LTO-9 drive, both available in desktop and 2RU appliances.

We would like to thank you for your valuable time to attend our webinar on Advanced Data Protection with SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO Archiware P5 Archive. In case you missed it, you can click the link below to watch at a time convenient to you.

The SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliance is a revolutionary range of desktop and rack-mountable high-performance LTO appliances with Ethernet connectivity designed for Ethernet-based and Hyper-converged environments including media & entertainment, business, enterprises, and datacentres.

Archiware P5 Archive is a software tool providing MAM-like archive to LTO/LTFS and pairs beautifully with SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO for added flexibility. Learn about these two complementary products, and how your Archive infrastructure can gain momentum by employing archive to LTO via iSCSI over 10Gb Ethernet.

Join Archiware’s David Fox and Symply’s Nick Warburton in this 40-minute webinar, in which they overview both product ranges and a show live demo of the solution, and answer questions from attendees.

Symply Redefines Collaborative Shared Storage Workflows with the WORKSPACE XE-R Family of Products    

NAB New York, October 25th 2023 – Symply, a leading provider of media-centric shared storage solutions, proudly unveils the latest addition to its cutting-edge product lineup with the introduction of the SymplyWORKSPACE XE-R family. Building on the resounding success of the revolutionary WORKSPACE XE desktop collaborative storage solution launched earlier this year, the WORKSPACE XE-R promises to redefine shared workflow storage capabilities while prioritising ease of use. 

The WORKSPACE XE-R is available in two highly versatile configurations: a 4RU 24 Bay model and a 4RU 60 Bay variant, both offering a spectrum of storage choices, including HDD, all-flash, and hybrid storage configurations. This innovation represents a significant leap forward in collaborative shared storage solutions, offering an array of features that will transform the way media professionals work. Key features include storage tiering, robust user and project management, seamless hybrid cloud workflows, and optional Media Asset Management (MAM) support, empowering users with transcoding capabilities, local and remote file ingest, browser-based editing, and secure content sharing. 

Keith Warburton, CEO of Symply, stated, “The WORKSPACE XE disrupted the landscape of desktop collaborative storage when it was first introduced at NAB Las Vegas in 2023. Building upon the success of that milestone, we’ve taken innovation to new heights with the WORKSPACE XE-R. This product delivers unprecedented throughput and configuration flexibility while preserving the unmatched simplicity that Symply is renowned for.” 

One of the standout features of the WORKSPACE XE-R is its seamless connectivity through 25Gb or 100Gb Ethernet, thanks to a client-side Ethernet driver optimized for TCP/IP. This architecture ensures that the shared storage is perceived as a block-level local disk device, eliminating the unpredictability associated with network shares. As a result, these systems are engineered to deliver optimal performance across a variety of environments, including Raw 4K and 8K workflows, addressing the fundamental shared storage requirements of diverse media pipelines, including on-set production, postproduction, VFX, broadcasting, houses of worship, sports teams, and agencies. 

The WORKSPACE XE family seamlessly integrates into Symply’s extensive product portfolio, which encompasses hyper-fast Thunderbolt3 shuttle RAID solutions, Thunderbolt3, SAS, and 10Gb Ethernet-connected LTO devices, in-facility and transportable S3 native private cloud storage, as well as high-performance public cloud storage with zero egress charges. These solutions are readily available through Symply’s global network of authorized resellers, known for delivering the Symply Better experience to customers worldwide. 

More information can be found at

Press Contact: 

Roman Minalto  | +44(0)1223 228040 
Unit 7 Kings Court 
CB4 2PF, UK 

Follow and connect with us on LinkedInYouTubeInstagramFacebook and X for more information.


Hedge Announces New Releases for macOS and Windows

In a recent development, Hedge, the creator of Canister, has unveiled two significant releases, marking a new chapter in their journey as a leading software provider. Following last week’s successful OffShoot release, they are taking a bold step by ensuring its products are fully compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. 

The latest update not only brings substantial improvements to Canister on macOS but also introduces Canister for Windows, aligning with Symply’s commitment to eliminate any vendor lock-in for their customers. The end goal is to achieve parity between Windows and macOS, giving users the freedom to choose their preferred computing platform. 

Many people (wrongly) assume Hedges’ macOS and Windows apps share codebases simply because that’s the case with apps like Premiere Pro, Resolve, and Scratch. That approach has a clear downside: you can’t craft beautiful user interfaces and experiences if you can only use what works on both operating systems. To make the most of an app, tune it to what the OS gives you. As a result, Hedge’s apps, do not share code, emphasizing a shared vision and interface design instead. This approach, though time-consuming and resource-intensive, is a testament to their dedication to delivering the best user experience possible. 

A Brief Look Back

Canister’s journey began in early 2017 to bring the same level of usability and design excellence to LTO (Linear Tape-Open) storage as Canister had already achieved with its backup solutions. With a little guidance from the dev team at Symply, Canister evolved to become the innovative software it is today. 

Canister quickly gained recognition for its ability to deliver the usability that LTO technology had always promised but struggled to provide. By addressing the challenges of LTO storage, Canister changed the game for users and garnered praise for its sleek interface and design. 

Canister for Windows: A New Era

The release of Canister for Windows is a result of hard work, dedication, and a commitment to providing a seamless experience on both major operating systems. While Canister for Windows is missing some features available on macOS, such as Spanning and support for simultaneous transfers, Hedge is actively working to bring these features to the Windows version. Canister’s driver manager, Preflight Checks, was designed out of a need for better driver installation on macOS, but it is less necessary on Windows, where installing LTO drivers is a smoother process. 

Hedge plans to add the missing features in future updates while also working on features that can be delivered simultaneously on both platforms, enhancing the user experience. 

Introducing Connect

In a recent update, Canister unveiled the third iteration of Connect, an online dashboard where users can track transfer progress in real-time and receive push notifications when transfers are complete. Connect is accessible from desktops, tablets, and smartphones, providing users with the flexibility to monitor their operations remotely. 

By introducing Connect, Hedge ensures that users are no longer tethered to their workstations during transfers. This feature allows users to monitor LTO transfers remotely, providing peace of mind and a frictionless experience. 

The Future of LTO

LTO technology, often viewed as a relic of the past, is proving its vitality in the modern data storage arena. LTO-9’s Sept 2021 release offered a substantial 18TB, has turned heads, and LTO-10 set to increase capacities again to 35TB native. These significant capacity increases demonstrate that LTO is very much alive and evolving alongside cutting-edge NVMe technology. 

Notably, LTO has adapted over the years, transitioning from SAS to Thunderbolt connectivity. Now, the industry is pushing the envelope further by introducing Ethernet-connected LTO appliances. This innovation brings cost-efficiency and convenience to the forefront. With Ethernet, users can relocate their LTO drive to a machine room while keeping their computer, whether it’s a NUC or Mac Mini, on their desk. This setup eliminates the desk clutter and the need to constantly access the machine room for connections. 

In a constantly shifting data storage landscape, LTO technology’s resilience and adaptability shine through. The addition of Ethernet connectivity enhances its versatility, ensuring that LTO remains a relevant and practical choice for professionals seeking efficient data storage solutions. 

Upgrading and Updating

As always, Canister provides updates for all existing licenses eligible for support. Users can simply click the ‘updates available’ ribbon to access the latest enhancements and features. For those unsure of their license status, Canister provides clear notifications during the updating process and offers options for extending support. 

New Canister licenses, starting from today, include compatibility with both macOS and Windows. Existing Canister license holders looking to switch to Windows or use both operating systems can easily add Windows compatibility for a nominal fee. 

The demand for data will continue to explode, and of that, there is no doubt. An IDC report puts the amount of digital data in the world in 2025 at 163 Zetabytes (ZB). Of course, all of this data is not going to be stored long term, but 11.1 ZB is predicted to be stored long term by 2025, and 60% to 80% of this data is expected to be cold or archival data.  Much of this is driven by Sports, Media and Entertainment (but also Oil & Gas, Healthcare and Surveillance), and those content owners have ever-growing lakes of valuable content that they are either monetising already or are planning to do so.  This is going to be made possible, in large part, by a more widespread adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools to make sense of the vast volume of data. 

One of the biggest trends at the moment is processes relating to optimising where content and assets are stored.  There seems to be a lot of truth in the “cloud boomerang” a phenomenon in the Sports, Media and Entertainment industry in which companies are egressing content from public cloud providers and storing, once more, on-premises.  Although this trend is being driven primarily by financial concerns, over both recurring and escalating cloud storage costs, there are other advantages of this migration out of the cloud for customers. 

Companies that are rich in content usually have their media distributed over multiple geographies. This is where cloud native solutions add a tremendous amount of value, with the ability to easily search metadata and deliver content on demand.  In contrast, many public cloud providers do an excellent job of actually siloing content in geos making it difficult to share content within an organisation. To pull together customers’ public and private cloud storage, Media Asset Managers (MAMs) are going to be increasingly leveraged, not only to index the content contained within them, but also to build or enhance workflows, and provide a single point of access across an organisation. 

AI and ML applications that provide transcription, object recognition, and transcoding tools, for example, can be easily set to work on these newly created content lakes. Traditionally many of these tasks were carried out by teams of media professionals, interacting with MAMs, and painstakingly inputting or logging data.  However, the ability to bring AI and ML applications to the content, where performance and processing are unaffected by the constraints of an organization’s connectivity to the public cloud, or the need to migrate between public cloud vendors to access the desired applications. Likewise, content can also easily be accessed by OTT applications to provide an immediate pathway for many companies to make it easy to monetize their assets. 

Choosing a cloud-native solution such as SymplyPERIFERY to host on-prem workloads, provides a rock-solid platform on which to consolidate valuable content, in order to maximize its longevity, governance, security, and sovereignty while applying AI/ML toolchains to harvest the content’s inherent value to an organization.  What’s more the performance and scalability of SymplyPERIFERY remains under the direct control of customers, who not only benefit from improved performance, but also from consolidation, and the ability to more accurately predict their costs.    

As a company, Symply helps customers implement this on-premises-first (OPF) Hybrid Cloud infrastructure model, which prioritises on-premises workflows enabling customers to unlock the advantages already discussed and treats the public cloud as an enhancer that can be removed or changed without disruption to operations.  Thus, enabling organisations to preserve operations, applications, function, and performance, while allowing them to continue to grow and protecting them against the cost unpredictability of the public cloud. 

The SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliances enable Acceleration and De-centralisation of Data Protection   

Cambridge, Great Britain – 5th September 2023Symply, a pioneering technology company specializing in professional storage solutions, is thrilled to announce the launch of a new range of cutting-edge LTO appliances with Ethernet connectivity that expands the SymplyPRO family. Designed for Ethernet-based and Hyper-converged environments including media & entertainment, enterprises and datacentres, the SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliances provide secure, shared access to LTO tape drives over a 10Gb Ethernet network.

Elevating Data Protection with Network Efficiency  

By deploying the appliances on a network, organizations can reduce reliance on dedicated and expensive servers by dispersing and de-centralising data protection tasks with readily available high-speed access to Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology.  

Unparalleled Configuration Flexibility  

SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliances are available with half-height LTO drives in single and dual-drive desktop and 1RU configurations, with 2RU rackmount configurations featuring full-height LTO drives offering native performance up to 400MB/sec per drive. Dual 10Gb Ethernet SFP+ interfaces offer flexibility in network connectivity. The appliance can support either an additional two LTO drives via a SymplyPRO SAS LTO making a total of four LTOs, or the appliance can be connected to a LTO tape library installed with one or two LTO drives, providing maximum flexibility. 

The Heart of Performance: A Potent ARM Processor  

At the core of these appliances lies a potent ARM processor, enabling lightning-fast command processing and data traversal on distinct pathways. This results in maximum block transfer sizes to the LTO drives across the Ethernet network, while integrated data acceleration technology ensures optimal performance without straining host system compute resources. Resultantly, SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliances provide a remarkable 20% performance increase over conventional SAS-connected LTO drives. With dedicated Dual 10Gb Ethernet network connectivity, client systems can achieve aggregated performance of up to 2,000MB/sec when reading from or writing to the LTO appliances.  

Your Pathway to Enterprise-Class LTO Storage  

“Our vision for these new Ethernet-connected appliances is to make enterprise-class LTO storage readily accessible for organizations of all sizes,” said Keith Warburton, CEO of Symply. “By moving LTO to a dedicated Ethernet fabric, a user experiences a new level of performance, scalability, and dispersed ease of use for important data protection initiatives.”  

Key features of the new SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliances include: 

The new SymplyPRO Ethernet LTO appliances are available to order now starting at $7999 and can be seen on the Symply stand at IBC 2023, Hall 7, Stand C21.

More information can be found at 

About Symply: 

Symply is a forward-thinking, dynamic technology company based in Cambridge, Great Britain, specializing in cutting-edge storage solutions. With a dedication to innovation, performance, and security, Symply continues to redefine data management for creative professionals, businesses, and enterprises worldwide. 

Press Contact: 

Roman Minalto  | +44(0)1223 228040 
Unit 7 Kings Court 
CB4 2PF, UK 

Follow and connect with us on LinkedInYouTubeInstagramFacebook and X for more information.

Press Release_Symply Ethernet LTODownload

LTO vs HDD, is it obvious?

In recent blogs, we have touched on backup and archive strategies utilising Linear Tape Open (LTO), or a combination of LTO with on-premise disk and public cloud.  We have also talked about the current generation of LTO, LTO-9, migration strategies for LTO, and the LTO roadmap going forward and how this compares to hard drives.  In this blog, the aim is to expand on where the various digital storage technologies such as hard drives (HDDs) and LTO compete with each other and the future of the various technologies.

The recent pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 saw a growing demand for digital storage, especially HDDs driven by data centre expansion and client computing to support remote working. LTO also did extremely well in 2021 growing 40% over the previous year with 148 Exabytes (EB) shipped, versus 114 EB in 2019 and 105 EB in 2020 (note these figures are for compressed capacities, but still impressive).

2022 for HDDs and SSDs saw a slowdown, especially in the second half of that year, as economic uncertainty increased, demand dropped, which led to significant oversupply in the market.   Trendfocus, Inc. released preliminary results for CQ4 2022 showing HDD shipments decreased between 11.5 and 12.5 million units or around 25% quarter on quarter.  That said, SSD is now dominating in many areas that were traditionally the preserve of the hard disk, such as laptops and desktops, portable storage, and high-performance storage solutions which are becoming increasingly dominated by SSD media.  This has relegated the HDD to higher capacity nearline storage applications where the price per TB for SSD is too high.  The increasing use of SSD media is contributing significantly to the decreasing sales of HDDs, particularly in conjunction with the global economic slowdown that occurred in the latter half of 2022.

2022 saw the release of 20TB HDDs from Seagate, Toshiba, and WDC, with WDC going one better and releasing a 22TB HDD.  Let’s also not forget that LTO-9 was released in 2021, admittedly a year late and with not quite the promised capacity, with 18TB native and 45TB compressed per cartridge.  What is driving these very large capacities both on HDD and LTO?  In a nutshell, it is largely the cloud hyperscalers, who are demanding, along with other countless data centres, ever higher capacities on both HDD and LTO.

This demand for ever-higher capacities has caused problems for the HDD vendors and the problem is density.  Consider that an 18TB hard drive has a density of 1022 Gbit/sq inch versus the LTO-9 cartridge which has a density of only 12Gbit/sq inch.  Put simply, this means that LTO-9 tape can achieve the same capacity with only 1/85th of the areal density as that of the same capacity disk.  This is why it is possible for LTO technology to keep increasing capacity at historical rates, with capacity doubling every generation (see LTO roadmap).

The latest LTO roadmap features LTO-14 with a native capacity of 576TB per data cartridge, which you can expect to be available in the mid 2030s, assuming a 3-year gap between generations, with LTO-10 rumoured to be released in the latter half of 2023.  These higher capacities have already been demonstrated in a lab, with IBM and Fujifilm demonstrating 220TB on a tape as early as April 2015, using barium ferrite (BaFe) technology. Then in December 2017, IBM and Sony achieved a 330TB native tape.  Not to be outdone, Fujifilm resumed its partnership with IBM and in 2020 achieved a capacity of 580TB a density of 317Gbit/sq inch (remember an 18TB HDD has a density of 1022 Gbit/sq).

The road to 576TB LTO tape is unlikely to be without its problems.  LTO-8 ended the backwards read compatibility of two generations of LTO, due to changes in the head technology. There was a problem with media supply due to the patent dispute between Sony and Fujifilm that disrupted the supply of LTO-8 media in the early days of that generation.  This led to the rather ill-conceived LTO-8M technology stopgap, the less said the better (in our opinion).  Currently, LTO-8 and LTO-9 media uses BaFe technology, but it is likely that future LTO media will use new magnetic particles, such as epsilon ferric oxide (ε-Fe2O3) the most likely candidate for LTO-10, and then further down the line, Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) which was used to achieve that 580 TB on a tape in 2020.  Changes in the magnetic particles used will have a knock-on effect on the new generation of drive heads and vice versa, which will inevitably lead to changes and restrictions in compatibility between generations.  The low cost per TB to store data on LTO, combined with the fact that Fujifilm estimates that the carbon emissions from LTO is 43% less compared to HDDs, could beg the question: Do these speculated changes to compatibility between generations even matter?

As we have just seen, areal density on media does not affect LTO, but it certainly affects HDDs.  The current 20TB and 22TB HDDs use Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR), utilising perpendicular magnetic recording on the disk platters, as their forebears have done for a decade or more.  But they are very likely to be the last of their kind. To gain higher track densities on the disk platters, manufacturers are turning to Shingling Magnetic Recording (SMR) and Energy-Assisted Magnetic Recording (EAMR) technologies.  Shingling offers a relatively easy capacity gain of about 10% by overlaying tracks on the disks, like roof shingles or tiles(hence the name), the downside of this is that the process to write the tracks is more complicated and therefore slower, especially if data has to be changed or deleted.  To replace a single shingle (tile) on a roof, many other shingles have to be removed to change the desired shingle, and the principle is the same with shingled HDD technology.  So SMR hard drives are traditionally more suited to data sets that are changed infrequently, but frequently read.  Indeed, the hyperscalers and data centre customers have in place software strategies to take advantage of these higher capacity drives.  

WDC introduced, what they call, ultra-SMR drives in 2022, which feature their OptiNAND technology.  Essentially this is an additional NAND flash layer incorporated into the drive and used for key drive housekeeping functions that can take advantage of the speed of the NAND flash to store more metadata which enhances the performance of the drive along with freeing up capacity on the disk itself that would otherwise be taken up by the metadata.  This means the same drive heads and media used in the WDC 22TB CMR HDD can be stretched to provide 26TB in the ultra-SMR format.

Seagate has SMR HDDs as well, but Seagate has also bet big on Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), which is a form of energy-assisted magnetic recording to build the next generations of high-capacity hard drives.  HAMR technology allows for even high densities on the disk platters without using shingling.  This is where looking at WDC and Seagate, the digital storage strategy differs for the two companies, with WDC much more heavily invested in NAND Flash. Although to be fair to WDC, they pioneered Helium-filled drives in 2013 and announced their energy-assisted offering ePMR back in 2020.   But it is Seagate, with their implementation of HAMR technology, that looks set to break free from the 1022 Gbit/sq inch density shackles and ship 30TB+ HDDs in 2023.  Indeed, Seagate is confident in its ability to deliver a 50TB hard drive by 2026.  

At Symply we are also fans of another Seagate hard drive technology, called MACH.2, which we use in our products.  These drives feature dual independent actuators that can transfer data to storage systems concurrently, essentially doubling the performance of a standard single actuator drive, providing up to 480MB/sec of sustained throughput.   This is on par with SATA SSDs, but at a much lower price per TB than SSD.  Currently available in 14TB, 16TB and 18TB capacities, it will be interesting to see how HAMR and MACH.2 technologies converge to solve one of the key problems of higher-density hard drives… the reduction of performance as destiny increases.  By enabling the storage system to request and receive data from two areas of the drive in parallel, MACH.2 doubles the IOPS performance of each individual hard drive, more than offsetting any issues of reduced data availability that would otherwise arise with higher capacities.

Toshiba, who along with WDC and Seagate make up the three manufacturers of HDDs, are pursuing their own energy-assisted magnetic recording technology, microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR). Toshiba is targeting a 30TB HDD by 2024, with a plan to have HAMR HDDs available in 2026 with capacities in the range of 40TB.  Industry associations, such as the Advanced Storage Research Consortium, an HDD industry association, believe that a 200TB HDD should be possible by the mid-2030s.  Interestingly around the same time that the LTO consortium might be shipping a 576TB LTO tape.

So where does that all leave us?  As the world’s demand for data will continue to explode, the IDC projects a cumulative annual growth rate of 23%.  A Seagate-commissioned report (again from IDC) put the amount of digital data in the world in 2025 at 163 ZB.  Of course, it is not all going to be stored long term, but IDC predicts that a capacity of 11.1 ZB will have to be stored in 2025 and 60% to 80% of that data will be cold or archival data.

It is clear that NAND Flash technology is going to continue to eat away at hard drive sales.  In the media and entertainment industries most of the portable HDD-based single and dual-drive systems, and mobile hard drives have been replaced by SSD.  Undoubtedly, how to store that 11.1 ZB of data is going to be down to HDDs and LTOs.  HDD shipments in terms of capacity are inevitably going to be picking up again after the current economic uncertainty passes.  What is certain is that with the HDD vendors pushing the 30TB+ capacities, it is unlikely that NAND Flash devices are going to get near the price per TB of HDDs, so they will remain the preserve of high-performance storage.  As the preferred nearline digital storage solution, the HDD solidifies its position not just among hyperscalers and data centres, but also among establishments seeking to store their cold or archived data for 5 to 7 years, with the added convenience of swift and effortless access. Although LTO sales have increased in terms of capacity, the hard drive remains far ahead in terms of scale, with disk capacity in 2021 reaching 1,269EB compared to tape capacity of 148EBIt will be interesting to see towards the end of the decade when tape capacity could be double that of HDDs, what the balance between HDDs and LTOs will be, given the additional benefits of data security, media longevity, cost per TB and a significantly lower carbon footprint.

As a professional, you need the right tool set to do the job correctly.

Greg Johnson, Creative Director at BW Productions, first ran in to limitations in his data management around 10-years ago when buying new hard disk drives for projects became cumbersome and problematic. Returning to hard drives sitting on the shelf brought about various issues such as connectivity, reliability, and data integrity problems. In the realisation that hard drives aren’t meant to stay on the shelf for more than a few years, and after some research, Greg discovered LTO (Linear Tape Open) technology. In its sixth generation at the time (LTO-6), Greg moved to using LTO data tape cartridges to securely store massive amounts of data for the lowest price point available.

Having been using LTO-6 for around 6-8 years, Greg looked to move to a newer generation of LTO and chose an LTO-8 device. Unfortunately for Greg, the product they chose was not reliable and the manufacturer who supplied the drive were not supportive in remedying issues Greg and the team at BW Productions were experiencing with their new hardware. After sending their device back and forth to the manufacturer their issues were still not resolved and very quickly their servers were becoming overloaded, and they were drowning in data management issues.  

“Reliability is so crucial for everything that we’re doing within our workflow. So, when we have any single piece of equipment go down, it leaves a large ripple effect throughout our entire organisation,” explains Brent Uberty, Managing Director and Founder of BW Productions. It was clear that their current LTO backup solution wasn’t cutting it for them anymore, and they needed to switch to a more reliable system that wouldn’t give them any issues. After doing some research, BW Productions found Symply’s LTO offerings and felt confident that this would be the right choice for them.

“As soon as we received the Symply LTO, we put it to work and it worked flawlessly,” exclaimed Greg Johnson. “Quickly, we got caught up with all of our backlogged data and we were churning out tapes all night, all day, and it was great.” Having chosen the latest LTO-9 tape drive technology in a SymplyPRO 1RU system with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, BW Productions were now able to backup a tremendous amount of data at extremely fast speeds.

BW Productions shoot around 350 projects a year, and that translates to around six to eight terabytes of data per week. When they originally purchased the 1RU SymplyPRO unit, they chose a single LTO-9 half-height drive because that met all their current data demands.  Shortly after though, BW Productions landed a large project where they had to backup dailies for a major streaming platform. “Once we landed that contract,” begins Brent, “it was so easy for us to upgrade and add another drive to our unit to give us dual writing capabilities.” Right now, BW Productions are churning through about four to ten terabytes a day with dual copies being made simultaneously through their two LTO-9 drives in their SymplyPRO 1RU system, with verification being handled through YoYotta software for macOS.

“Since installing our SymplyPRO LTO system we have had zero issues. And our system runs almost 24/7 with the sheer amount of data that we’re going through,” adds Brent. “I can’t say that about any other LTO system that we’ve used in the past.” Brent feels that a lot of this comes from the build quality of the hardware and Symply’s attention to detail in developing a platform from the ground up. “Reliability, usability, and upgradeability are all really important things to us when we’re looking at expanding our equipment. Symply provided the right needs from an equipment perspective, and we’ve been so happy with it overall.”

As Greg mentioned at the beginning, he has been using LTO technology for about ten years now, and he can honestly say that Symply LTO has been the easiest experience with LTO he has had to date.

About BW Productions

From Salt Lake City to the world. BW Productions genuinely care and know how daunting video production can be. BW Productions have a commitment to transparent pricing and quick project turnarounds that makes hiring their team of video and photo specialists a piece of cake. For more information visit


(818) 650-1065
+44 1223 228040
+49 (89) 26207042
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