HP doubles the capacity of its SureStore jukeboxes

Hewlett-Packard Co. has begun shipping magneto-optical storage jukeboxes with double
the capacity of previous HP SureStore jukeboxes and a lower cost per megabyte, HP
officials said. The new SureStore jukeboxes, which have 5.2G optical drives, store
80G to 1.2 terabytes of data. The last generation of SureStores had 2.6G optical drives.


HP officials said the company achieved the higher drive capacity by increasing the
sector sizes, shrinking the nonrecording area of the media, and storing tracks and data
closer together.


“We started with 650M back in 1989, and we’ve been doubling about every
couple of years,” said Peter Way, optical product marketing manager for HP’s
storage systems division.


The 5.2G drives’ backward compatibility lets them read and write both 5.2G and
2.6G cartridges.


But the backward compatibility is limited to read-only compatibility with earlier 1.3G
and 650M cartridges, Way said.


The original magneto-optical disks dating back to 1989 held only about 650M, he said.


HP will sell conversion kits to SureStore users who want to upgrade 2.6G jukeboxes to
the higher-capacity, high-availability configurations. The new jukeboxes support up to 10
optical drives and up to 238 cartridge slots.


The write-transfer rate of the SureStore 5.2G jukeboxes is 50 percent faster than that
of the previous 2.6G jukeboxes, even with the write-verify option enabled, officials said.


The magneto-optical recording method, because it is magnetic, is completely reversible.
DVD drives use a phase-change recording method, in which the recording surface is changed
from a crystalline state to an amorphous state, and back again.


“That can be done only a finite number of times,” Way said.


More fundamental are differences in the way the media resides in the drive, he said.
The magneto-optical media, which has a metal hub, is centered in the drive the same way
every time, he said.


“The DVD has a plastic-stamped disk that over time could start wobbling around a
bit more,” Way said.


The White House, Social Security Administration and Library of Congress use SureStore
jukeboxes to house large volumes of reference data.


Prices for the single- or dual-drive SureStore 80ex storage jukeboxes begin at $9,900.
For the SureStore 1200ex, which is expandable to 10 drives, prices start at $101,000.


Contact HP at 800-752-0900. 

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