The following is the text of an IBM Information Systems Group press release distributed on March 22, 1984.


IBM Tape Cartridges Replace Reels In A New Generation Of IBM Tape Drives

IBM introduced a new generation of magnetic tape drives today that replaces the familiar reel of tape with an easy-to-handle cartridge, more than doubles the rate at which tape devices transfer information, and offers significantly greater data reliability.

The new drives, part of the IBM 3480 magnetic tape subsystem, also achieve major reductions in space, power and maintenance requirements.

The small, rectangular cartridge used in the IBM 3480 tape subsystem is about one-fourth the size of a standard 10.5-inch reel of magnetic tape, yet it stores up to 20 percent more data -- a total of 200 million characters.

Information from a central processor can be transferred to the new drive or retrieved from them at rates of up to three million characters per second -- more than twice the rate at which current IBM tape drives read and write information. An innovative thin-film recording head helps to achieve the improved data rate.

The 4-by-5-inch cartridge is inserted into a slot in an IBM 3480 tape drive. The two drives are contained in a cabinet that is about the size and shape of a two-drawer office file -- a considerable savings in floor space over tape reel drives whose tall glass fronts and visible tape reels have become symbols of data processing. The 3480 drives take up 60 percent less floor space than two 3420 model 8 tape drives. Contributing to the IBM 3480's small size are microprocessors that precisely control tape positioning during read and write operations and eliminate the need for the tall vacuum columns used in current tape units. The compact subsystem requires 60 percent less power and cooling capacity than current IBM tape drives.

The New Tape

The rate at which data can be stored in the cartridge's one-half-inch wide chromium dioxide tape, or retrieved from it, is the result of using 18 recording tracks and achieving a linear data recording density of about 38,000 bytes per inch -- six times the density used in current IBM tape drives.

The 18 tracks of data can be recorded and read across the one-half-inch wide tape by the thin-film recording head. The tape flies over the recording head on a cushion of air, resulting in reduced wear to both the tape and the head.

New tape technologies, including a new error correction code, significantly increase the reliability of the new unit. Laboratory tests on the IBM 3480 tape unit show that for every trillion characters read, less than one permanent error occurs -- a significant improvement in data reliability over current IBM tape drives.

Operator productivity also has been improved. A new message display panel keeps operators informed of each unit's status. In addition, routine cleaning of the tape drive -- which can take as little as one minute a week -- is performed simply by inserting a cleaning cartridge into the transport slot. By contrast, routine cleaning of an IBM 3420 tape unit can take two to five minutes and usually is performed several times a day.

There are separate microprocessors in the 3480 control unit model A22 and in each of the two tape drives in the model B22 tape unit. A 512-kilobyte memory in the controller dynamically buffers the data as it is transferred. This reduces delays in the operation of the central processor normally caused by the start and stop actions of individual tape drives.

Storage Management

To simplify the management of storage in a computer system, a successor to IBM's current Hierarchical Storage Manager (HSM) software lets users not only copy data from disk storage to tape for backup, but also lets them move inactive data from disk to tape -- a function called "migration." The new Data Facility Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFHSM), version 2, lets users automatically manage data in the new IBM 3480 magnetic tape subsystems, as well as in the IBM 3420 magnetic tape units, IBM disk drives, and mass storage devices in IBM Multiple Virtual Storage/Extended Architecture (MVS/XA) and MVS/370 environments.

The new IBM 3480 tape subsystem attaches to IBM 308X, 303X, 4341 and 4381 processors that use the IBM MVS/XA and MVS/370 operating systems. The technology advancements implemented in the IBM 3480 are intended to form the basis for IBM's direction in magnetic tape development.

Availability and Prices

The purchase price of a typical IBM 3480 magnetic tape subsystem configuration, consisting of one controller and eight drives is $237,910. The A22 control unit is priced at $65,430, and the B22 tape unit, which contains two tape drives, sells for $43,120.

Volume purchase discounts for the IBM 3480 start at four percent for 10 units. IBM Credit Corporation offers three-, four- and five-year term leases for the new products, starting at $817 per month for the B22 tape unit and $1,240 per month for the A22 controller. The minimum maintenance charge per month is $225 for the B22 and $360 for the A22. Monthly rental charges are $3,630 for the A22 controller and $2,380 for the B22 tape drive unit.

IBM plans to make the 3480 generally available in the first quarter of 1985. Supplies, such as the new IBM tape cartridge, storage racks and transport carts for the cartridges can be purchased through IBM's National Distribution Division.

The IBM 3480 magnetic tape subsystem was developed by IBM in Tucson, Arizona, and is being manufactured there.


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