Spectra Logic: Our 1EB tape library is massively cheaper than AWS Glacier

Spectra Logic’s TFinity tape library can store an exabyte of uncompressed data with LTO-9 tapes, and is much cheaper than AWS Glacier Deep Archive, the company claims

Spectra Logic estimates a TFinity library with 1EB of LTO-09 data has a total accrued cost over five years of $8.05m whereas a AWS Glacier Deep Archive costs $12.12m over the same period.

Extending the storage period to 10 years results in a TFinity library total accrued cost of $8.55m. But AWS Glacier would cost an amazing $72.7m at that point.

The TFinity scales out to 45 frames or large racks and could store an exabyte of compressed data in 2016 with IBM TS1150 tapes and drives. The arrival of LTO-8 in July 2018 enabled the system to store an exabyte of compressed LTO-8 data. Now 18TB LTO-9 tapes bring the uncompressed exabyte into view, using 55,990 cartridges.

TFinity library interior

Customers would probable compress the LTO-9 data so we are looking here at a 2.5EB library.

This requires a lot of data centre floorspace – a 45-frame library occupies an area 109 feet by 3.5 feet deep.

Storing an exabyte of data costs millions of dollars, however you do it. But tape is cheaper than hard disk. Disk drives cost more than tape cartridges, and need power and cooling. Spectra suggest a 4PB disk array would need the same amount of power as a 1EB tape library.

Tables extracted from Spectra’s Exabyte storage eBook.

In an eBook, Spectra says TFinity users would start small – with a three-frame system, say – and then bulk it out, adding frames and drives as data volumes grow.

With the exception of a few hyperscalers, the notion that enterprises will store an exabyte of data on-premises seems fanciful. However, the LTO tape roadmap extends to LTO-12 with 144TB of raw and 350TB of compressed data. This means that 6,999 cartridges could store 1EB – an eighth of the LTO-9 number. The library would be correspondingly smaller and so more affordable.