MP, BaFe and LTO-7

Our customers often do not know the difference between Metal Particulate (MP) and Barium Ferrite (BaFe) media.  Here is an example of our correspondence with a recent customer.  We explain why you should use the appropriate media for your tape drive and the issues it could cause.

From Customer:

Thanks for repairing my LTO 7 tape drive.  I am very surprised about the pictures you sent me of the head and top cover of my tape drive.  The pictures show debris deposited on the head and interior of the tape drive.  From your analyzation of the tape drive logs you pointed out that I was using LTO 5 media.  I only use that media to restore data.  Why is this an issue?

Technical Team Response:

In previous versions of the LTO series one could Read and Write down 1 generation of media.  One also could read down 2 generations of media.  With the introduction of LTO7 these statements still apply.  We do not recommend doing that, reason of the debris deposited on you head that caused the drive to fail, in our opinion was caused by using MP media.  In the LTO7 the tape media to head tension was increased to read the higher density of the surface of the media.

To follow is information from media websites – explaining BaFe and MP.

https://www.fujifilmusa.com/products/tape_data_storage/innovations/barium_ferrite/index.html

Barium Ferrite (BaFe) is a new type of magnetic particle which can be greatly reduced in size to improve recording density without magnetic signal loss:

Fujifilm’s LTO 6, LTO 7 and future generations of LTO will use BaFe particles with NANOCUBIC technology for a thin and uniformly coated magnetic layer.

BaFe is already used and proven in enterprise products such as Oracle’s T10000 and IBM’s 3592 tape cartridges.

Fujifilm patented technology.

https://www.datacaredubai.com/information-resources/188-lto-6-metal-particles-and-barium-ferrite

From website:

LTO tapes have been using Metal Particle technology from Gen1. With every generation capacities were doubling, and to do that you need to increase the linear density of the tape so you can cram more data in the same space (or you can increase the tape length too, but that has other problems). Problem starts when you can’t increase the linear density of the tape.

LTO-5 at 1.5TB started to approach the maximum linear density that can be achieved using metal particles. In fact LTO-6 has the same linear density as LTO-5.  It was all well till LTO-6, but for future generations, the manufacturers had to look for something that could give them better linear density, and they came up with Barium Ferrite (BaFe).

BaFe is a newer technology that can offer much greater linear density compared to MP. LTO-6 has both MP and BaFe variants (some vendors like HP are offering both in their product line). But the future generations would all use BaFe, unless MP linear density can be increased. In previous versions of the LTO series one could Read and Write down 1 generation of media.  One also could read down 2 generations of media.  With the introduction of LTO7 these statements still apply.  We do not recommend doing that, reason of the debris deposited on you head that caused the drive to fail, in our opinion was caused by using MP media.

Summary:

If you have an LTO6, LTO7 or LTO8 tape drive you should be using Barium Ferrite media. Although you can read the data on your LTO5 media, LTO5 media is not BaFe, it is Metal Particulate (MP). Therefore, you may be doing damage to your tape drive. Also remember to always use Fuji media (Fuji, IBM, DELL and some Quantum) with your IBM tape drives. And be sure to use HP media with your HP tape drives. You can verify the manufacturer of your media by using Veritape®

MidWest Technical

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