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Which IBM 3592 tape cartridge has the highest capacity?

There are a bunch of IBM 3592 'J' tape designations. How do you order the right capacity for your tape drives? Do you take compression into account?

There aren't many tape storage experts around the data center anymore, which means you're sifting through the confusing...

IBM 3592 tape cartridge nomenclature alone.

There are five principal designations for 3592 tape cartridges: JJ/JR, JA/JW, JB/JX, JC/JY and JK (sometimes called Short JC). The storage capacities at each designation depend on the particular tape drive used with the cartridge.

The 3592 JJ/JR cartridge offers 246 meters (m) of tape and provides 60/100/128 GB of capacity for various IBM tape drives.

The 3592 JA/JW cartridge provides 610 m of tape with 300/500/640 GB of capacity.

The 3592 JB/JX cartridge holds 825 m of tape for 0.7/1.0/1.6 TB of capacity.

The 3592 JC/JY cartridge holds 88 m of tape and offers 4 TB of capacity.

The 3592 JK tape is just 146 m long and holds 500 GB.

No one cartridge capacity is the "right" size for a tape drive. IBM's TS1140 tape drive, for example, can use JK media for 500 GB, JB/JX media for 1.6 TB and JC/JY media for 4 TB of capacity.

All of these capacity figures are uncompressed. Compression increases the total effective capacity of each tape cartridge. It is difficult to predict exactly how much space compression will free up, because not all file types compress the same way. For example, text files compress extensively while lossy image file formats (JPEG, for example) don't compress further for tape storage.

Visit IBM's 3592 product page.

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This was last published in November 2014

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Heaven forbid that IBM (or most other vendors, don't mean to pick on them) actually adopts a nomenclature that makes sense for users. What's wrong with calling them 246, 810, or whatever else the length is?
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