AI Data Boom Drives Tape Storage Growth

Shipment of high capacity LTO Tape storage capacity hit a record of 152.9 Exabytes (EB) in 2023, driven in part by rapid data generation and the increased infrastructure requirements of enterprises for AI solutions.

LTO vendors HPE, IBM and Quantum claim the growth of 3.14% over 2022 shows the tape technology remains to be a choice solution for mitigating common challenges created by the proliferation of unstructured data due to recent advancements in technologies such as AI.

“The latest annual tape capacity shipment media report signifies the continued importance of LTO tape technology in the digital storage hierarchy not only today, but also far into the future as storage needs evolve in complexity and cost,” said Tom Coughlin, Storage Analyst and President, Coughlin Associates.

“LTO tape will endure as a critical component of storage architectures across the enterprise, especially as tape technology itself continues to improve to handle even larger volumes of data and more intensive workloads.”

LTO generation 9 is the latest format specification for LTO Ultrium tape drives and media, providing significantly more capacity and higher performance than the previous generation.

In addition to full backward read and write compatibility with LTO-8 cartridges, LTO generation 9 specifications include multi–layer security support with hardware–based encryption, immutable WORM (Write–Once, Read–Many) functionality, and fast data access with the Linear Tape File System (LTFS).

LTO generation 9 technology offers a 45TB compressed tape cartridge, representing a 50% capacity boost over LTO generation 8 and a 1400% increase over LTO-5 technology launched a decade ago, with transfer speeds of up to 400 MB/s (native), 1,000 MB/s (compressed).

In 2022, the LTO Program announced an extended LTO tape roadmap that calls for plans to achieve up to 1.4 Petabytes (PB) of compressed capacity per cartridge by LTO generation 14.

The LTO Program’s annual shipment reports for tape media is available for download from the LTO Program website,