Sony Now Shipping AIT-5 Products

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New Drives Deliver 400GB of Native Capacity per Cartridge and Backwards Compatibility

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 7, 2006 ? Sony Electronics is now shipping its fifth generation of Advanced Intelligent Tape drives, automation solutions and data media to OEMs as well as commercial and OEM distribution channel partners.

With a compact 3.5-inch drive form-factor, AIT-5 technology is the industry?s first tape-based technology to offer up to 400GB of native capacity (up to 1.04TB with 2.6:1 compression based on the ALDC algorithm) in a single 8mm media cartridge.

AIT-5 drives are read and write backward compatible with standard read/write as well as WORM AIT-4, AIT-3Ex and AIT-3 media, so users can smoothly migrate to the higher capacity of AIT-5 storage solutions without losing access to, or compatibility with, data recorded on these prior generations of media.

For an added level of data protection, AIT-5 drives are multi-functional and support Write Once, Read Many capability when using AIT WORM media. Both standard read/write and WORM media cartridges are also now shipping to all channels.

?A full range of both OEM and Sony-branded AIT-5 products are now available, including internal drives, external drives, as well as desktop and slim 1U and 2U rack-mountable automation solutions,? said Alan Sund, Sony Electronics? general manager for tape storage. ?The addition of AIT-5 solutions to our lineup sets a new standard for capacity, reliability and value.?

Sony has worked closely with independent software vendors to test and certify compatibility of AIT-5 based products to ensure wide support and full interoperability with industry-leading backup and archival applications.


About AIT-5 Technology

AIT-5 technology is characterized by industry leading data density, high capacity, helical-scan recording, a new media formulation with Advanced Metal Evaporated III tape, a Remote-Memory-In-Cassette chip, advanced MR head technology, Dynamic Tracking and WORM functionality.

  • High Capacityand Performance ? Each 8mm AIT-5 media cartridge boasts a massive native capacity of 400GB, and up to 1.04TB with 2.6:1 compression. The 3.5-inch, half-height AIT-5 drive has a 96MB buffer to manage data throughput and minimize buffer overruns, and a sustained native transfer rate of up to 24MB/second that is optimized for the majority of Windows-based servers installed and shipping today.
  • Helical-Scan Recording Technology ? Based on a very stable rotating drum/head platform, helical-scan recording technology permits accurate and extremely reliable data recording at very high track densities. This efficient recording density, typically nearly five times greater than most linear-serpentine methods, results in reliable and space-efficient storage solutions.
  • Advanced Metal Evaporated III Tape ? Based on AME III technology, AIT-5 media achieves an extraordinary areal recording density as well as greater smoothness, high durability and reliability. AME III improves upon its predecessor, AME II, realizing high output and low noise through an improved evaporated method, resulting in even smaller magnetic particles and a smoother tape that minimizes the spacing loss between the magnetic head and the magnetic layer. A newly developed back coating technology with a new additive delivers a more friction-resistant surface, thus reducing guide friction and further improving reliability and long-term running stability.
  • Remote-Memory-In-Cassette ? Built into the AIT-5 data cartridge, R-MIC is a non-volatile chip that provides quick media loads and allows fast searches to data. The chip contains the tape?s system log, search map and user-definable information, allowing the drive to quickly advance at a high speed directly to any file on the tape.
  • MR Heads ? AIT-5 drives employ more sensitive MR head technology with an increased signal output, promoting a higher level of data integrity, and enabling high performance and greater capacity per media cartridge as well as achieving backwards read and write compatibility with AIT-4, AIT-3EX and AIT-3 standard and WORM media.
  • Dynamic Tracking ? The four read heads use a new Dynamic Tracking system to control relative head position to the tape media with an actuator, enabling each head to trace the narrow track path for precise and accurate reading.
  • WORM Functionality ? AIT-5 drives are multi-functional, fully supporting both rewritable cartridges as well as WORM media. This enables organizations to choose the best backup and archival media for their needs. AIT-5 WORM media cartridges allow backed-up data to be easily accessed, but not rewritten, altered, or erased, offering a cost-effective storage technology for storing sensitive and regulated data. Sony was the first to offer WORM functionality in the mid-range tape drive price point.
  • Reliability – The reliability of AIT-5 drives result, in part, from innovative features, such as an automatic head cleaning system, and a soft touch tape loading system mechanism. The drive cooling system is isolated from the tape mechanism, thereby limiting airborne contaminants from entering the tape path and affecting reliability. An AIT-5 drive?s mean time between failures (MTBF) is an impressive 400,000 hours at 100 percent duty cycle.

?The AIT format continues to evolve and coincide with the growing needs of both small to mid-sized business users, while scaling up to meet the ever-expanding needs of enterprise customers,? Sund said. ?AIT-5 is now the highest density tape drive in the world, allowing our customers to manage fewer tapes and conserve space. It also consumes up to 40 percent less power than competing formats, and can thus help conserve energy and significantly lower total costs of ownership while offering exceptional reliability and meeting real world performance requirements.?

Industry Response

?The market has proven that low-cost disk storage systems and tiered storage solutions are empowering tape by making it more flexible and user friendly,? said Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports. ?Sony?s AIT technology family spans a wide spectrum of storage performance and capacity and serves a broad range of users.?

?Tape continues to offer unique characteristics and value, making it a desirable format for backup, archival storage, and disaster recovery applications,? said Phillip Sargeant, managing vice president and team managerforGartner Dataquest Storage Research. ?In addition, compliance requirements for many private and public companies mandate the storage of critical company data on non-alterable media, providing tape vendors with an opportunity to help these organizations handle their growing storage needs.?

?Customers who place a premium on storage density and space will value products like Sony’s AIT-5’s high-capacity and 3.5-inch form-factor, particularly in their tape libraries,? said Robert Amatruda, research director at IDC. ?Sony continues to invest and innovate on its AIT roadmap in order to address these industry needs.?

?Form factor, capacity, and the highest reliability rating in the industry make Sony?s AIT the best of breed solution for tape backup in our hot plug and D2D2T solutions,? said Steve Stallman, president of Cybernetics. ?Real estate is always important in the server room, and the backup density of AIT-5 enables us to deliver exceptional capacity in a blade thin format.?

?We?re very happy we chose AIT tape, because of its great value to our customers in meeting compliance requirements,? said Brent Bowlby, CEO of Intradyn Inc. ?In early 2004 when we first introduced our ComplianceVault? email archiving appliance aimed at SMBs, AIT technology was by far and away the best choice. It was the first low-cost archiving technology with WORM capability, and we could see the AIT technology roadmap was something we could grow with. The increasingly larger tape capacities in each successive generation are perfect for the rapidly growing volumes of email that companies are now finding they must archive. We made a great decision in 2004 to go with AIT, and now it?s only logical that our latest, multi-terabyte appliance models for larger companies, the eSeries, are bundled with the latest Sony AIT-5 tape libraries.?

?The capacity of AIT-5 drives will help meet today?s growing storage demands,? said Bob Covey, vice president of marketing for Qualstar. ?We look forward to delivering AIT-5 solutions to our TLS-and RLS-Series tape library customers.?

?Spectra Logic has more than 15,000 AIT libraries installed with customers who require storage systems with a small footprint, high capacity, low power consumption and speed,? said Nathan Thompson, CEO of Spectra Logic. ?AIT-5 has backward read/write capability through multiple generations down to AIT-3, and we expect this feature to generate upgrades with existing users, and accelerate new library sales.?

?Organizations need cost-effective ways to retain and safeguard their growing volumes of critical business information,? said Frank Jablonski, director of product marketing for storage management at CA. ?The combination of CA’s BrightStor ARCserve Backup software and Sony?s AIT tape drives fulfills this need, maximizing storage capacity and conserving power while providing essential backup-and-recovery functionality.? BrightStor ARCserve Backup protects and ensures availability of critical applications and data from large data centers to back offices, providing a wide range of support for disk technologies, Storage Area Networks and Network Attached Storage environments.

?AIT-5 drives represent a leap forward in capacity, and those upgrading can enjoy seamless compatibility with Symantec Backup Exec, the Gold Standard in Windows data recovery,? said Pat Hanavan, vice president, product management, Data & Systems Management Group at Symantec Corp. ?Our work with Sony allows us to offer our customers interoperable backup and archival solutions that minimize planned and unplanned downtime, as well as maximize the value of their investment with a complete hardware and software solution.?

Availability and Pricing

AIT-5 products, including drives, automation solutions and media started shipping to OEMs, commercial distributors, value-added resellers and system integrators this month. The internal Sony-branded AIT-5 drives are available starting at an MSRP of $3,100. AIT-5 media is available for an MSRP of $75 per cartridge, and AIT-5 WORM cartridges have an MSRP of $82.

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Editors Note: Based in San Jose, Calif., the Tape Storage Solutions segment of Sony Electronics? Component Solutions Business Division markets storage solutions through OEM, commercial and industrial distributors, retailers and resellers. For additional press information and images of Sony storage products, visit Sony?s news and information web site at www.sony.com/news. Your readers can obtain more information at www.aittape.com, www.storagebysony.com and www.mediabysony.com.