IBM Corp is keen enough on the idea of establishing a common tape technology for tape data interchange in the enterprise and mid- range systems space to commit to moving its Magstar product line to the proposed open format, once it has been established. IBM got together with Seagate Technology Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co earlier this month to announce plans for the format specification, which should be ready early next year (CI No 3,283). Magstar, the tape drives used in IBM’s 3590 tape drives for AS/400s, RS/6000s, SP/2 parallel systems and Sun Solaris boxes via SCSI-2, and to mainframes via the channels, was announced by IBM back in April 1995, and currently uses a half- inch tape cartridge holding 10Gb of uncompressed data. The Magstar is the successor to IBM’s 3490 tapes, originally launched for the AS/400, which have been around since 1989, and the 3480 mainframe and AS/400 cartridges which replaced reel-to-reel tapes in 1984. IBM says the commitment gives IBM Magstar users a roadmap extending into the next century – although it says it hasn’t worked out specific details yet, because discussions are still underway. The common interchange initiative, somewhat analogous to the Hewlett-Packard Co and Sony Corp collaboration on the Digital Data Storage variant of Digital Audio Tape, is intended to enable compatibility across multiple vendor formats, and the three participants hope to gain support from drive, media and software vendors. Product is not likely to reach the market until mid-1999.
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