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Tape Drive Performance Figures

Views: 18724
Votes: 11
Posted: 06 Nov, 2007

Tape Drive Performance Figures

Quite often, people purchase a new backup application with the idea that it will help them improve the throughput of data between their system and their backup device. Quite often, however, they are disappointed to discover that the new application is no faster than tar or cpio. The reason for this usually relates directly to the performance of the backup device they are using.

For example, an old 60MB 1/4" tape drive only accepts data at a rate of around 100 kilobytes per second. Therefore, the user should not expect more than around 6 megabytes per minute of data backed up to the tape. On even the slowest i386 running SCO XENIX, you can stream this device with tar, so buying a new backup application will not improve the speed of the backup process. Here are a few standard I/O rates for the more common backup devices available today and projected numbers for the technology as it developes.

Tape Drive Type & Connection Native Tape Capacity Native Transfer Rate Per Second Native Transfer Rate Per Minute
1/4" Cartridges (DC 6000)**
With QIC-02 Interface Card
QIC-24/120/150 60.0, 125.0, 150.0, 250.0 MB 100.0 KB /s 6.0 MB/Min
With SCSI (QIC-104) Interface Card
QIC-24/120/150** 60.0, 125.0, 150.0, 250.0 MB 120.0 KB/s 7.2 MB/Min
QIC-525** 525.0 MB 230.0 KB/s 14.0 MB/Min
QIC-1000** 1.0 GB 200.0 KB/s 12.0 MB/Min
QIC-1350** 1.35 GB 600.0 KB/s 36.0 MB/Min
1/4" Floppy Tape Drives (DC 2000)**
On Standard Floppy Controller   17.0 KB/s 1.0 MB/Min
On High Speed Floppy Controller   80.0 KB/s 4.8 MB/Min
Travan Tape Drives - 8mm**
TR-4 ATAPE/IDE Interface** 4.0 GB 400.0 KB/s 28.0 MB/Min
TR-4 (NS-8) SCSI Interface** 4.0 GB 600.0 KB/s 36.0 MB/Min
TR-5 ATAPE/IDE Interface 10.0 GB 1.0 MB/s 60.0 MB/Min
TR-5 (NS-20) SCSI Interface** 10.0 GB 2.0 MB/s 120.0 MB/Min
Digital Data Storage (DDS )/Digital Audio Tape (DAT )(SCSI)
DDS-1† 2.0 GB 183.0 KB/s 11.0 MB/Min
DDS-2† 4.0 GB 500.0 KB/s 3.0 MB/Min
DDS-3† 12.0 GB 1.0 MB/s 60.0 MB/Min
DDS-4 20.0 GB 3.0 MB/s 180.0 MB/Min
DAT 72 36.0 GB 3.0 MB/s 180.0 MB/Min
DAT-160 80.0 GB 5.0 MB/s 300.0 MB/Min
DAT-320 160 GB 12.0 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
Variable Speed Architecture (VXA ) 1**
SCSI Interface 12.0, 20.0, 33.0 MB 3.0 MB/s 180.0 MB/Min
ATAPI Interface (Non-DMA) 12.0, 20.0, 33.0 MB 1.2 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
ATAPE Interface (DMA-2) 12.0, 20.0, 33.0 MB 3.0 MB/s 180.0 MB/Min
Variable Speed Architecture (VXA) 2**
SCSI Interface 20.0, 40.0, 60.0, 80.0 GB 6.0 MB/s 360.0 MB/Min
FireWire 400 20.0, 40.0, 60.0, 80.0 GB 6.0 MB/s 360.0 MB/Min
FireWire800 20.0, 40.0, 60.0, 80.0 GB 6.0 MB/s 360.0 MB/Min
Variable Speed Architecture (VXA) 172 & 320**
VXA-172 (SCSI) 40.0, 86.0 GB 12.0 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
VXA-320 (SCSI) 40.0, 86.0, 160.0 GB 12.0 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
8mm Exabyte Mammoth(SCSI)**
EXB-8200/8205 2.3 GB 255.0 KB/s 15.0 MB/Min
EXB-8500/8505 5.0 GB 500.0 KB/s 30.0 MB/Min
MAMMOTH 2 25.0 GB 12.0 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT )**
AIT-E Turbo 20.0 GB 6.0 MB/s 360.0 MB/Min
AIT-1 35.0 GB 4.0 MB/s 240.0 MB/Min
AIT-1 Turbo 40.0 GB 6.0 MB/s 360.0 MB/Min
AIT-2 50.0 GB 6.0 MB/s 360.0 MB/Min
AIT-2 Turbo 80.0 GB 12.0 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
AIT-3 100.0 GB 12.0 MB/s 720.0 MB/Min
AIT-3 Ex 150.0 GB 18.0 MB/s 1.08 GB/Min
AIT-4 200.0 GB 24.0 MB/s 1.44 GB/Min
AIT-5 400.0 GB 24.0 MB/s 1.44 GB/Min
Super Advanced Intelligent Tape (SAIT **
SAIT-1 500.0 GB 30.0 MB/s 1.80 GB/Min
SAIT-2 800.0 GB 45 MB/s 2.70 GB/Min
Digital Linear Tape (DLT )**
DLT 2.0, 6.0, 10.0 GB 800.0 KB/s 64.0 MB/Min
DLT 4000 20.0 GB 1.5 MB/s 72.0 MB/Min
DLT 7000 35.0 GB 3.5 MB/s 210.0 MB/Min
DLT 8000 40.0 GB 4.0 MB/s 240.0 MB/Min
DLT-1 (VS80) 40.0 GB 3.0 MB/s 180.0 MB/Min
DLT-1 (VS160) 80.0 GB 8.0 MB/s 480.0 MB/Min
DLT-V4 160.0 GB 10.0 MB/s 600.0 MB/Min
Super DLT 220 110.0 GB 11.0 MB/s 660.0 MB/Min
Super DLT 320 160.0 GB 16.0 MB/s 960.0 MB/Min
Super DLT 600 300.0 GB 36.0 MB/s 2.16 GB/Min
DLT-S4 800.0 GB 60.0 MB/s 3.6 GB/Min
Linear Tape-Open (LTO )
LTO-1 100.0 GB 15.0 MB/s 900.0 MB/Min
LTO-2 200.0 GB 30.0 MB/s 1.8 GB/Min
LTO-3 400.0 GB 60 to 80.0 MB/s 3.6 to 4.8 GB/Min
LTO-4 800.0 GB 80 to 120 MB/s 4.8 to 7.2 GB/Min
LTO-5 1.5 TB 140 MB/s 8.4 GB/Min
LTO-6 2.5 TB 160 MB/s 9.6 GB/Min
LTO-7* 4.0 TB 240 MB/s 14.4 GB/Min
LTO-8* 12.8 TB 472 MB/s 28.32 GB/Min

Note: All numbers are based on the values reported by the manufacturer.

*This technology has not yet been developed or is currently under development. These statistics are the expected specifications according to the technology road map created by its developer(s).

** This technology is been officially considered End-Of-Life by its developer(s). The tape technology is no longer being developed.

† This tape generation has been officially considered End-Of-Life by its developer(s) or is no longer being manufacturered.  Newer generations of the technology are still be available. The techology is still being developed.


Does This Mean I Can't Go Faster?

Actually, it probably does. If you are running a high-end system like a Sun SparcServer 10000 with Fiber Channel drives and a DDS-2 DAT with no compression, you're probably already maxing the drive out at the rated 366KB/s. Even lower performance x86 platforms can drive a tape at that speed.

If, however, you have a high-end Exabyte mechanism or a new DLT or LTO drive, you may be able to eek a few more KB/s out of the system by using a better buffering scheme or using a utility like BRU that provides double buffered I/O. With double buffered I/O, BRU fills one buffer while another is being written to tape. This way, your system maintains a steady stream of data to the backup device.

Last Updated: April 27, 2010

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