Advanced Intelligent Tape

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Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) is a discontinued high-speed, high-capacity magnetic tape data storage format developed and controlled by Sony. It competed mainly against the DLT, LTO, DAT/DDS, and VXA formats. AIT uses a cassette similar to Video8. Super AIT (SAIT) is a higher capacity variant using wider tape in a larger, single-spool cartridge. Both AIT and SAIT use the helical scan method of reading and writing the tape.

AIT tapes.

Form factors[edit]

AIT technology was available in two form factors.

  • AIT – 8 mm, dual reel cartridge, similar to Sony's 8 mm videotape products and Exabyte's 8 mm data tape products.
  • SAIT – 1/2", single reel cartridge, similar to DLT and LTO.

In March 2010, Sony announced the discontinuation of the AIT product line, and renewed collaboration with Hewlett-Packard on further development of the DDS tape format,[1]


One of the most compelling features of the AIT format is that many generations are both backwards and forwards compatible. This allows multiple generations of tape drives to both read and write to multiple generations of tape media.

AIT generations[edit]

Generation AIT-E Turbo AIT-1 AIT-1 Turbo AIT-2 AIT-2 Turbo
Release Date 2004 1996 2004 1999
Native Capacity (GB) 20 25, 35 40 36, 50 80
Max Speed (MB/s) 6 3, 4 6 6 12
Encoding Trellis-coding for Partial Response (TCPR)
RPM 4800 6400
Tape Length (m) 170, 230 170, 230
Tape Thickness (μm) 7.0, 5.3 5.3


  • Original specification's data capacity is 25 GB, with a data transfer speed of 3 MB/s.
  • Extended length tape, introduced in 1999 gave additional capacity, 35 GB.
  • Speed increased to 4 MB/s in 2001.
  • Turbo variant, introduced in 2004, is 50% faster (6 MB/s) and holds 40 GB.
  • A budget version, AIT-E Turbo, was also introduced in 2004 to compete with DDS.
  • SATA version of AIT-1 Turbo available in 2006.


  • Doubled capacity and transfer speed
  • WORM technology introduced
  • Turbo variant is 100% higher capacity, 100% faster (same speed as AIT-3)
  • Turbo variant introduced R-MIC technology
  • SATA version of AIT-2 Turbo available in 2006
  • Higher capacity TAIT2-80N (Turbo) 80Gb native.
Generation AIT-3 AIT-3Ex AIT-4 AIT-5 AIT-6
Release Date 2001 2006 2005 2006 cancelled
Native Capacity (GB) 100 150 200 400 800
Max Speed (MB/s) 12 18 24 24
Encoding Extended TC-PRML Turbo-coded modulation Turbo-coded modulation
Tape Length (m) 230 246 246
Tape Thickness (μm) 5.3 4.8 4.8


  • Doubled capacity and transfer speed
  • Ex variant is 50% higher capacity, 50% faster


  • Doubled capacity and transfer speed
  • New tape formulation, AME-2
  • Not compatible with previous generations


  • Available September 27, 2006[2]
  • Announced July 2006, hardware and media expected "in the fall."
  • Doubled capacity (via halved tracked pitch to 2.2 μm), maintained transfer speed.
  • Backwards compatible with AIT-3, AIT-3Ex, AIT-4
  • New tape formulation, AME-3, which uses finer Cobalt particles resulting in SNR gain of 1 dB compared with AIT-4/AME-2.
  • A switch to GMR head technology (Flux Guide GMR).

SAIT generations[edit]

Comparison of "supertape" capacities, including SAIT.
Generation SAIT-1 SAIT-2 SAIT-3 SAIT-4
Release Date 2003 2006 cancelled cancelled
Native Capacity (GB) 500 800 2000 4000
Max Speed (MB/s) 30 45 120 240
Tape Length (m) 600 640
Tape Thickness (μm) 8.6


  • Highest capacity tape cartridge from 2003 to 2006. Displaced by DLT-S4 (800 GB).

The AIT format was developed and is controlled by Sony.


Released in 2006 by Sony, available only in libraries, 800 GB native and 45 MB/s sustained transfer rate.[3]


  • Data Capacity and Speed figures above are for uncompressed data. Sony assumes a 2x or 2.6x compression factor in their marketing material.
  • According to Sony, "All future products are based on technology projections."

Technical features[edit]


Advance Metal Evaporated is a different formulation of tape media.


Memory in Cassette Memory chip in the cartridge that keeps relevant information about the tape.


Remote - Memory in Cassette Like MIC except it does not require physical contact.


Write Once Read Many functionality, useful for archive keeping.


  1. ^ "Sony Kills AIT Line of Storage Products". Archived from the original on 2010-08-19.
  2. ^ "Sony announces availability of its fifth generation tape drive and media in celebrating 10 years of AIT" (PDF) (Press release). Sony. September 27, 2006. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  3. ^ "SAIT2-800". Sony. Retrieved 2007-01-30.

External links[edit]