Sony Electronics has upgraded its Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) format with the introduction of AIT-4. The new fourth-generation format increases AIT storage capacity to 200GB of native storage (520GB at 2.6:1 compression) and provides transfer speeds of up to 24MBps. AIT-4 drives ship in a 3.5" drive form factor and and support 8mm media. AIT-4 drives are read and write compatible with AIT-3 media and can read AIT-2 and AIT-1 media. Sony plans to add write once, read many (WORM) functionality later this year. "The format will continue to evolve to stay ahead of the needs of small business users and to keep pace with ever-expanding data storage needs of enterprise departments. AIT-4 is the highest-density tape drive in the world, allowing our customers to manage fewer tapes and conserve space," said Hiroyuki Minamiya, senior marketing manager for Sony Electronics' Tape Storage Division.
   AIT-4 drives will be available from OEMs in September; Qualstar and Spectra Logic are among the companies expected to support the new format. Sony will ship Sony-branded AIT-4 drives and media in October.