Sony has Monday laid out its road map for AIT (advanced intelligent tape) format tape technology and announced the formation of a standards group for AIT that includes Compaq and HP. An established tape technology with a considerable installed base, AIT tape will begin matching both LTO (linear tape open) and Super-DLT (digital linear tape) in storage capacity and data transfer rate by the beginning of next year, according to Steven Baker, vice president of Sony's Tape Storage Solutions Division. AIT-3, the next generation of AIT tape scheduled to roll out in the first quarter of 2001, will have a capacity per/cartridge of 100GB, with a transfer rate of 11MB per/second, uncompressed. By that time, advances in LTO will take that format's capacity also to 100GB per/cartridge, with Super-DLT's capacity going to 110GB. But Sony hopes the lower cost of AIT tape will be what attracts customers to the tape storage solution, said Baker. A base AIT system will sell for less than £3,000, compared to the £5,000 average base price of LTO and Super-DLT. Like LTO, a newly-formed AIT standards body will ensure that future advances in AIT tape keep the technology backwards compatible to "at least the last generation of AIT tape," said Baker. The initiative is viewed by the company as an attempt to remain competitive with the recently announced developmental road maps for competing tape solutions DLT and LTO. AIT-4, expected to arrive in early 2004, will have a capacity and data transfer rate double to that of AIT-3, according to Baker.