LTO 8 mounting orientation effects on Tape drive performance
by George Saliba
Abstract: The topic of the preferred mounting orientation of tape drives has been discussed for decades, clearly the drive mounting orientation will alter the head mass effect on the servo loop performance when the head is suspended by the actuator or resting on the guides. Over the years, number of tests were conducted on various DLT drives and even decades ago, the data showed a preferred drive mounting orientation can influence drive performance. Considering that quick review of the LTO8 shows the similar drive architecture to DLT, the question has remained unanswered if the drive mounting orientation can affect the drive performance. This study was recently requested by MagStor to quantify the effect of the mounting orientation on the LTO8 drive performance. The tests were conducted on a new IBM LTO8 IBM Tape Drive supplied by Magstor, (Magstor PN SAS-HL8-8088), the standard Tape drive Doctor advanced test routines was used to conduct the tests.
The topic of the preferred mounting orientation of tape drives has been discussed for decades, clearly the drive mounting orientation will alter the drive head mass effect on the servo loop performance when the head is suspended by the actuator or resting on the guides. Also the drive mounting orientation could affect the dynamics of the tape lateral tape motion as it spools onto the reels and even the head to tape interface could affect the sensitive read/write
performance. Due to the complexity of the system interaction, the first order of this analysis was to design a simulated customer test to determine if we can detect any orientation effects. Over the years, number of tests were conducted on various DLT drives and even decades ago, the test data showed a preferred drive mounting orientation, considering the LTO8 has similar drive architecture to DLT, the question regarding the effect of tape drive mounting orientation
on the drive performance of LTO drives has remained largely unanswered.
This study was recently commissioned by Magstor to quantify the effect of the mounting orientation on the LTO8 drive performance. The tests were conducted on a new IBM LTO8 Tape Drive supplied by Magstor, (Magstor PN SAS-HL8-8088), using the standard Tape drive Doctor advanced test routines.
First few words about Tape Drive Doctor tool. TDD was originally developed and patented by Quantum Corporation and later advanced by Saliba Technologies Corporation. The objective of this tool is to quickly test LTO drives performance during simulate customer read/write operations and cartridge read/write interchange using calibrated cartridges. This tools has been used extensively by drive repair companies and more information regarding the technology and patents can be found at TapedriveDoctor.com.
TDD basic routine consist of reading and writing customer data at specific tape locations, by measuring the time of various operations, a figure of merit of the drive performance is reported. TDD also interrogate the drive error rates and servo defects so at the end of the test, we have a full 360 degrees results representing tape drive performance. All TDD test cartridges are calibrated to a gold standard, and the results are purely the drive performance. The quality
value is linearized and normalize. The value of 3, represent the centerline drive, a lower value is better than average and higher value represent a worse than average drive. For complete picture, we will report the raw data reported by the drive, the actual process time and normalize performance.
For the test, a new IBM LTO8 drive serial number YY1097006353 supplied by MagStor was used. The two orientations tested were according to the instruction of the drive manufacture, first the horizontal direction two passes. Second, two passes in the vertical direction. Special attention was taken to insulate the drive from any possible outside vibration to purely measure the effect of the mountain orientation.
For the first set of tests, the drive mounted in the horizontal direction.
Figure 1 MagStor Horizontal orientation
Below are the timing data as reported by TDD test portion of writing 5000 blocks repeated 8 cycles when the drive mounted in the horizontal direction.
LTO8 First test horizontal reverse direction
01/18/2021 220.127.116.118 Wr Rev Process Time Cycle 1 in Milliseconds
01/18/2021 18.104.22.1685 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 22.214.171.1246 gCPW_TimeRev Normalized
01/18/2021 126.96.36.1998 3.022 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
LTO8 Second test horizontal reverse direction
01/18/2021 188.8.131.529 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 184.108.40.2060 gCPW_TimeRev Normalized
01/18/2021 220.127.116.113 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
LTO8 First test horizontal forward direction
01/18/2021 18.104.22.1686 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 22.214.171.1248 gCPW_TimeFwd Normalized
01/18/2021 126.96.36.1990 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
LTO8 Second test horizontal forward direction
01/18/2021 188.8.131.525 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 184.108.40.2066 gCPW_TimeFwd Normalized
01/18/2021 220.127.116.118 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
For the second set of tests, the drive mounted in the vertical direction.
Below are the timing data as reported by TDD test portion of writing 5000 blocks repeated 8 cycles when the drive mounted in the vertical direction.
Figure 1 MagStor Vertical Orientation
LTO8 First test vertical writing in the reverse direction
01/18/2021 18.104.22.1680 8 3 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 22.214.171.1241 gCPW_TimeRev Normalized
01/18/2021 126.96.36.1999 12.176 4.773 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
LTO8 Second test vertical writing in the reverse direction
01/18/2021 16.09.25.796 7 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 16.09.25.812 gCPW_TimeRev Normalized
01/18/2021 16.09.25.875 11.140 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
LTO8 First test vertical writing in the forward direction
01/18/2021 188.8.131.521 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 184.108.40.2068 gCPW_TimeFwd Normalized
01/18/2021 220.127.116.116 3.055 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
LTO8 second test vertical writing in the forward direction
01/18/2021 18.104.22.168 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
01/18/2021 22.214.171.124 gCPW_TimeFwd Normalized
01/18/2021 126.96.36.199 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000
Horizontal, first pass LTO8 servo data
01/18/2021 15.39.52.031 Servo stop write Fwd : 0
01/18/2021 15.39.52.046 Servo stop write Rev : 0
01/18/2021 15.39.52.062 Write skip Fwd : 363
01/18/2021 15.39.52.078 Write skip Rev : 1966
Horizontals, second pass LTO8 servo data
01/18/2021 16.21.07.437 Servo stop write Fwd : 0
01/18/2021 16.21.07.453 Servo stop write Rev : 15
01/18/2021 16.21.07.468 Write skip Fwd : 370
01/18/2021 16.21.07.484 Write skip Rev : 1964
Vertical, first pass LTO8 servo data
01/18/2021 15.53.02.812 Servo stop write Fwd : 0
01/18/2021 15.53.02.828 Servo stop write Rev : 152
01/18/2021 15.53.02.859 Write skip Fwd : 427
01/18/2021 15.53.02.875 Write skip Rev : 2363
Vertical, second pass LTO8 servo data
01/18/2021 188.8.131.520 Servo stop write Fwd : 0
01/18/2021 184.108.40.2066 Servo stop write Rev : 167
01/18/2021 220.127.116.111 Write skip Fwd : 404
Tape drive doctor detected significant 300% slower timing write performance degradation in the reverse direction when the drive was mounted in the vertical direction as opposed to the horizontal direction. Upon further analysis of the dive raw data, the cause was determined to be the servo loop optimization.
01/18/2021 18.104.22.1681 Write skip Rev : 2377
CONCLUSION: Based on the data from testing the new IBM LTO8 drive, when the drive is mounted in the vertical direction, the drive delivered significantly worse performance than in the horizontal position. In this calibrated test, LTO Tape Driver Doctor, during repeated tests, measured as much as 3X slower performance when the drive was mounted in the vertical direction as compared the horizontal direction. Furthermore, the drive reported an order of magnitude increase in write servo skips in this drive. Large servo skip count indicates the potential for large losses of cartridge capacity that will reduce the total useable capacity of the LTO8 tape drive. Based on this test, we recommend mounting IBM LTO8 drives in the horizontal direction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Saliba is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Saliba Technologies, Inc. located in Boulder, Colorado. For the past eight years at Saliba Technologies, George invented and led the development of multiple advanced data storage products including the very successful Tape Drive Doctor for LTO and DLT tapes, “TDD”, and the Global Storage Solution technology, “GSS”.
During his tenure at Saliba Technologies, Mr. Saliba continues to provide Technology & IP consulting to multiple Fortune 500 companies in the field of disk, tape and data storage systems. Prior to Saliba Technologies, he was responsible for the development of the very successful DLT and SDLT families of tape and Automation data storage products at Quantum Corporation. George was the primary inventor of the DLT and Super DLT tape product line and was instrumental in the explosive growth of the DLTtape and SDLTtape. He is credited for inventing multiple tape technology advances and completing, ahead of the competition, 8 consecutive leadership DLT and SDLT tape products (DLT260, DLT2000, DLT4000, DLT7000, DLT8000, SDLT1 and SDLT2). DLT became the industry standard for tape storage products worldwide, shipping over 100 million tape cartridges. Mr. Saliba also was responsible for the development of all the DLTtape media and DLTStor Tape Automation.
The success of these products has resulted in the phenomenal growth of Quantum’s business from $200 Million to over $1 Billion. George Saliba is known in the industry as “Mr. DLT”. George’s career spans over 35 years in the data storage industry.
Prior to Quantum, he was the Senior Group Engineering Manager for TK70, TF70, and for the tapes of all DLT Tape storage products
developed at Digital Equipment Corporation. He also held a variety of senior engineering management and technical staff positions in developing state-of-the-art disk drives at Storage Technology Corporation from 1977 – 1986.
George has received numerous awards for his work. In 1996, he was voted Quantum’s Inventor of the Year.
For his many DLT inventions and innovations, in 1997 he was awarded Quantum’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also received, for the second time, the Inventor of the Year Award in 1998. Mr. Saliba recently received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of
Colorado, Denver. George has over 90 issued patents covering various data storage technologies. He has published extensively in the magnetic recording field. George earned BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Colorado, and holds BT1 and BT2 degrees in Electrical Engineering from Ecole Des arts et Sciences.