LTO Ultrium Roadmap

LTO Roadmap through to generation 12

The LTO Ultrium roadmap shows purchasers of LTO tape technology that there is a clearly defined path for future LTO technologies which in turn protects their investment in the technology.  The LTO Ultrium tape has come a long way since the first LTO-1 drive was launched in the 2000 and now LTO-9 storing 18TB native.

LTO Roadmap

LTO the future

Whilst the LTO Ultrium roadmap is currently on LTO-9, the subsequent versions will provide a significant step up in capacity in performance so much so that they will outperform spinning disk drives.

LTO Backwards compatibility

A big plus when the LTO Ultrium consortium set out the roadmap was to enable future versions of the technology the ability to read two previous LTO generations and write one previous generation and this has always been true even today.


You can see from the table above that LTO can backup a large amount of data within a relatively small time-frame, in an hour a single LTO-9 drive can backup 18TB's natively and in a perfect world where we can keep the tape streaming and data compresses nicely 6.0TB's per hour running at 1000MB/s!


LTO WORM was developed to allow organisations to store large amounts of critical data as a backup/archive job and once written these tapes could not be overwritten or tampered with.  Another benefit of LTO WORM is the ability to be compliant with regulatory requirements including Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and SEC Rule 17-a-4(f).

From LTO-3 onward, all LTO drives have the ability to Write Once Read Many (WORM) functionality. An LTO drive with a WORM cartridge will not erase or overwrite data on a WORM cartridge, but will read it. An LTO WORM Cartridge is identical to a normal LTO- tape cartridge except its LTO-CM chip identifies it to the drive as WORM and the servo track is slightly different to allow verification that data has not been modified, and may come with tamper proof screws. WORM capable drives immediately recognise WORM cartridges and include a unique WORM ID with every dataset written to the tape. There is nothing different about the tape medium in a WORM cartridge. Typically the WORM cartridges have a different colour packaging.


Since LTO-4, LTO has the ability the to encrypt tapes using 256-bit AES-GCM encryption. Encryption at the LTO tape drive level enables compression before encryption, maximising tape capacities, and allows high performance during backup.

LTO Ultrium Roadmap Development History

LTO Ultrium Tape

LTO Ultrium technology was developed jointly by HP, IBM and Certance (Seagate) now Quantum to provide a clear and viable choice in an increasingly complex array of tape storage options.  LTO tape provides a robust, highly convenient and very cost effective way of storing data.

LTO Ultrium technology is an "open format" technology, which means that users will have multiple sources of product and tape media. The "open" nature of LTO technology also provides a means of enabling compatibility between different vendors' offerings.

LTO Ultrium tape is the most widely used tape backup technology available today, LTO-5 is the most popular. LTO Ultrium tape provides a perfect solution for backing up a huge variety of computer systems and applications. The LTO Ultrium tape backup systems and media are manufactured by a variety of media vendors and are readily available.

LTO Ultrium tape was available in various formats LTO-1, LTO-2, LTO-3, LTO-4, LTO-5, LTO-6, LTO-7, LTO-8 & the current cartridge format LTO-9 has a native capacity of 18TB with LTO-8 providing 12TB.  LTO-9 cartridges can also be used for archival purposes and have WORM functional media tapes for this function.  Another feature of LTO-9 cartridges is the ability to be partitioned to allow different drives/systems to see different parts of the tapes.

LTO tape vendors

We are able to provide LTO Ultrium tape from all of the following vendors, typically providing next day delivery and discounts for bulk purchases or regular orders.  We also supply LTO WORM media and cleaning tapes to keep your drive in tip top shape.

  • HP
  • IBM
  • Lenovo
  • Fujifilm
  • Sony
  • Quantum
  • Tandberg Data
  • Spectra Logic

LTO tape labels

In addition to providing LTO media we can also provide printed barcode labels for most of the popular brands of tape libraries all you need to provide is the library model and the number sequence you need, we'll do the rest.

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