MAGNETIC TAPE DRIVE APPLICATIONS AND MARKETS

In spite of their relatively long access time, magnetic tape drives offer many advantages over magnetic disk drives for specific applications. Since the tape is extremely thin (a few microns) and is wound upon itself, it offers extremely high volumetric density of storage. Moreover, tape is relatively inexpensive and may be removed from the drive. With these features, digital magnetic tape drives are used in a wide variety of applications, but the extent of the usage depends upon the size of the computer system. This is illustrated in Fig. 2.5 where the various applications for digital magnetic tape are shown across the top, and the computer systems they are used in are shown down the side. This figure clearly illustrates that the largest number of tape applications are in large computer systems and that magnetic tape serves a large variety of needs.

The markets for various digital tape drives are shown in Table 2.1. Compact tape drives are small form factor drives, which are typically used for disk backup on personal computers as well as on a network. Performance tape drives are high-end tape products used predominantly for large computer systems. Tape libraries are automated media changing subsystems comprised of multiple tape drives, shelves or racks to contain media, and mechanisms to move media between drives and storage shelves. Summed together the total digital tape drive market was about $4.6 billion in 1996.

The market share of non-U.S. and U.S. manufacturers of the various classes of tape drives are also shown in Table 2.1. As in the case of disk drives, U.S. companies sell the majority of digital magnetic tape drives used for data storage and most of the non-U.S. manufacturers are Japanese. Although Japanese companies have only a small fraction of the market for magnetic tape drives for data storage, they dominate the analog audio- and videotape drive businesses. Moreover, they are the dominant manufacturers of magnetic tape media.


Fig. 2.5. User application segments for magnetic tape. The inverted triangle shows the tape applications (across the top) and the systems use of these applications down the side. The presence of an application with a particular system shows the importance of tape storage in that environment. (Reprinted with permission of the National Storage Industry Consortium.)

Table 2.1
1996 Revenues from Tape Drive Sales

U.S. Mfrs.

Non-U.S. Mfrs.

Worldwide

($ million)

%

($ million)

%

Compact Tape Devices

1,559.8

81.6

350.6

18.4

1,910.4

Performance Tape Drives

988.1

75.6

318.7

24.4

1,306.8

Tape Libraries

1,196.5

85.0

211.3

15.0

1,407.7

TOTAL

3,744.3

81.0

880.6

19.0

4,624.9


Source: Freeman Reports
Published: June 1999; WTEC Hyper-Librarian