It was knownWestern Digital has received a number of patents covering the combination of hard disk and tape drive designs and mechanisms. We are talking about embedded tape drives (LTO), which can accommodate hard disk components. Such drives can occupy an intermediate place between large, but very slow tapes and much faster, but not so large hard disks.
The source reports on three of the most important patents: 11393498 (head assembly with hanging system for built-in tape drive), 20200258544 (embedded tape drive) and 11081132 (integrated tape drive with hard disk components). Judging by the description, it is about the transfer of read and write nodes borrowed from disks to tape cartridges. In fact, WDC expects to move away from tape drives and libraries based on them, and turn any tape into a drive in a disk form factor.
Of course, this makes tape recording more expensive. However, the overall cost of storing data on tape is lower than on disk in the same form factor. Storage costs range from $4/TB on tape to $20/TB on enterprise-class disk. Access speeds to tape data will continue to suffer, although using flash memory can alleviate this problem. However, a unified approach allows you to install embedded tape drives into existing disk subsystem scaling solutions and very easily solves the problem of lack of capacity.
Another question is how the companies overseeing the LTO standard will respond to this initiative. The strategy of such companies, led by IBM, HPE and Quantum, involves the availability of expensive drives and entire libraries of libraries and cheap tapes. Western Digital will need to make significant efforts if it wants to bring its development to life. Maybe it will help her growing demand for tapes, where there is also space for new suggestions. And if this does not happen, then the WDC has an “alternative airfield” – storing data on the DTC, although that’s another story.