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  1. Technology
January 25, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Overland Data Inc is busy looking for partners and licensees for its VR2 Variable Rate Randomizer encoding technology, which it somewhat boldly claims could do for tape storage what the Pentium did for the PC market. VR2 will apparently almost double the performance and storage capacity of any current linear tape technology, and Overland president and chief executive reckons it has the potential to energize the $1.77bn linear tape drive market, by adding double speed and capacity for very little extra cost. The San Diego, California company has used PRML Partial Response Maximum Likelihood technology, which to date has been applicable only to disk and not tape. Nick Charles, director for European sales, says other companies have tried and failed to apply PRML to tape, but Overland has succeeded in developing algorithms which achieve a rate efficiency of more than 99%. The algorithms will be incorporated in a chip, or ASIC, and Overland is hoping to license the technology to major tape drive vendors. Charles says it is already in discussions with several companies, and has had a very positive response to the technology from most companies. The technology can be applied to virtually any existing linear tape devices including IBM Corp’s Magstar and Magstar MP, Quantum Corp’s DLT, Travan, MLR and SLR, and Charles says it will also be applicable to any future linear tape drive technologies. It does not require any changes in tape path design, recording heads or media. The company has not yet finalized who will manufacture the ASICs, but says it will probably use multiple suppliers. It has not yet put any pricing on the technology, but Charles says the actual ASICs are not complex to manufacture, and should prove to be an inexpensive addition to the drives, thus dramatically increasing linear tape’s price performance. Overland’s primary focus at present is to license the technology, but it will also incorporate it into its own products. The company expects to see the technology incorporated into products within a year, and hopes to announce its first partnerships shortly.

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