EMC Reinvents Symmetrix Line

New DMX architecture delivers significant performance improvements

EMC Corp. this week reinvented its high-end Symmetrix line with the addition of three new models and support for a new internal architecture—dubbed Direct Matrix Architecture (DMX)—that company representatives say leaves conventional host- and switch-based technologies in the dust.

At the same time, EMC officials acknowledge that mainframe FICON connectivity won’t be available for its new Symmetrix systems until sometime this spring.

EMC’s new Symmetrix DMX—or Symmetrix 6.0 (for sixth generation)—exploits a serial point-to-point topology that links the internal components of a storage array. The result is the DMX architecture that has up to 32 independent cache regions and supports 32 concurrent I/Os.

This amounts to less overall contention and greater throughput, says EMC senior marketing manager Tom Broderick: “Obviously, when you’re not sharing that [conventional architecture] you reduce the possibility of I/O contention, and what we've seen as a result of that is an incredible increase in throughput performance.”

Broderick says that Symmetrix DMX supports up to 16 GBps of cache throughput.

In addition to better performance, EMC’s new Symmetrix DMX systems boast support for Triple Modular Redundancy with Majority Voting, a reliability enhancement that triple checks data as it’s written to disk.

EMC introduced three Symmetrix DMX models: the DMX 800, 1000 and 2000. The 800 is positioned as a midrange offering and borrows heavily from the physical design of EMC’s Clariion CX-600 system. The high-end 1000 supports up to 64 front-end ports and a capacity of 21 TB. The 2000 supports double that.

EMC is also shipping “ultra performance” versions of its new Symmetrix systems, dubbed the 1000-P and 2000-P, which include twice the number of back-end storage directors.

The new Symmetrix DMX systems support both the fibre channel and mainframe ESCON interfaces.

EMC’s new announcement “couldn’t have happened at a better time” for the company, says independent storage consultant Arun Taneja.

Over the last two years, Taneja notes, EMC has lost share to competitors Hitachi Data Systems and IBM as the performance of its aging Symmetrix 5.0 architecture neared the end of its life cycle. “If they didn’t bring this out, they would have been in a huge amount of hurt for 2003.”

The enhanced performance of the Symmetrix DMX systems enables EMC to “leapfrog” over its competitors and should help it to “stem the tide and gain some share back,” he speculates.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.