Digital Data Storage

This article is about a particular data storage media. For the general meaning, see data storage device.

Digital Data Storage (DDS) is a format for storing computer data derived from Digital Audio Tape (DAT).

DDS uses tape with a width of 3.81mm, with the exception of the latest formats, DAT 160 and DAT 320, which are 8mm wide. Initially, the tape was 60 meters (197 feet) or 90 meters (295 ft.) long. Advancements in materials technology have allowed the length to be increased significantly in successive versions. A DDS tape drive uses helical scanning for recording, the same process used by a video cassette recorder (VCR). If errors are present, the write heads rewrite the data.

Backward compatibility between newer drives and older tapes is not assured; for examples, see HP's DDS/DAT Media Compatibility Matrix. (Notice in HP's article that newer tape standards do not simply consist of longer tapes; with DDS2, for example, the track was narrower than with DDS1.)

The DDS format competes mainly against the LTO, AIT, VXA, and Travan formats.

A DDS-2/DAT cassette


Format Date Tape width
Track pitch
Tape length
Native capacity
Capacity assuming
2:1 compression
Drum rotation
Data transfer
DDS-1 1989 3.81 13.6 60/90 1.3/2.0 2.6/4 2000, 2551 0.183
DDS-2 1993 3.81 9.1 120 4.0 8 4000, 4400, 5737, 8500 0.360-0.720
DDS-3 1996 3.81 9.1 125 12.0 24 3825, 4252 <1.5
DDS-4 1999 3.81 6.8 150 20.0 40 11400 1.0-3.2
DAT-72 2003 3.81 5.4 170 36.0 72 8609.7, 10000 3.2
DAT-160 2007 8 6.8 154 80 160 6457 6.9
DAT-320 2009 8 153[1] 160 320 12
(Gen 8) canceled 8 ~300 ~600 ≥16


Stores up to 1.3 GB uncompressed (2.6 GB compressed) on a 60 m cartridge or 2 GB uncompressed (4 GB compressed) on a 90 m cartridge.

The DDS-1 Cartridge often does not have the -1 designation, as initially it was the only format, though tapes made since the DDS-2's introduction may carry a -1 designation to distinguish the format from newer formats. A Media Recognition System was introduced for DDS-2 drives and tapes to detect the media type. From 1993, DDS-1 tapes included the Media Recognition System marks on the leader tape - this was shown by having 4 vertical bars after the DDS logo.


Stores up to 4 GB uncompressed (8 GB compressed) on a 120 m cartridge.


Stores up to 12 GB uncompressed (24 GB compressed) on a 125 m cartridge. DDS-3 uses PRML (Partial Response Maximum Likelihood). PRML minimizes electronic noise for a cleaner data recording.


DDS-4 stores up to 20 GB uncompressed (40 GB compressed) on a 150 m cartridge. This format is also called DAT 40.

DAT 72

DAT 72 stores up to 36 GB uncompressed (72 GB compressed) on a 170 m cartridge. The DAT 72 standard was developed by HP and Certance. It has the same form-factor as DDS-3 and -4 and is sometimes referred to as DDS-5.

DAT 160

DAT 160 was launched in June 2007 by HP, stores up to 80 GB uncompressed (160 GB compressed). A major change from the previous generations is the width of the tape. DAT 160 uses 8 mm wide tape in a slightly thicker cartridge while all prior versions use 3.81 mm wide tape. Despite the difference in tape widths, DAT 160 drives are backwards compatible with DAT 72 and DAT 40 (DDS-4) tapes. Native capacity is 80 GB and native transfer rate was raised to 6.9 MB/s, mostly due to prolonging head/tape contact to 180° (compared to 90° previously).[2] Launch interfaces are SCSI and USB, with SAS interface now released.

DAT 320

In November 2009 HP launched the new DAT 320 which stores up to 160 GB uncompressed (marketed as 320 GB assuming 2:1 compression).


The next format, Gen 8, was planned to store approximately 300 GB uncompressed.[3]

Official standards

See also


  1. "HP DAT 320 320GB Data Cartridge - DAT & DDS tape cartridges - HP: Q2032A:". Hewlett-Packard. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  2. "DAT Technology". DAT Manufacturers Group. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  3. "DAT Roadmap". DAT Manufacturers Group. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
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