The LTO roadmap has been extended to LTO 8 which will allow up to 12.8TB of uncompressed data to fit on a single cartridge. The upgrade includes quite a bit of changes, such as the larger compression buffer for history which could mean up to 32TB on a single generation 8 cartridge.
The drive also includes, from LTO generation 5 and onward, the ability to segment the cartridge into two partitions. Each partition can be independently accessed to provide faster access to the data.
The Linear Tape File System specification (LTFS), which defines a new file system that will utilize the partitioning feature of LTO generation 5 cartridges and above, was also announced. This specification will allow LTO generation 5 and above cartridges to be used as a storage medium for unstructured data, allowing the extension of the operating system to store data on tape as if it were a disk.
Support is currently planned for Linux, MAC OS and MS Windows (see the LTO website).
Another notable factor is that the LTO specification only allows for support of the previous two generations of cartridges on LTO Tape Drives. LTO 5 drives will not be able to read LTO 1 and LTO 2 cartridges. By the time LTO 8 is released, organizations will need, at a minimum, LTO 3 drives to read LTO 1 through LTO 3 cartridges; LTO 6 drives to read LTO 4 through LTO 6 cartridges; and LTO 8 drives to read the LTO 7 and LTO 8 cartridges.
The LTO roadmap offers some great new features including a lot more storage capacity. Are these worth the cost of backward compatibility?