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1/14/2013
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EMC Enhances Flagship Storage Arrays

Updates to VMAX 10K include increased performance, better virtualization and disk drive intermix.

EMC on Monday enhanced its flagship VMAX storage array with support for new processors, a new storage interconnect, mixed drive configurations and updates to its Enginuity operating system.

The enhancements are to the VMAX 10K, the entry-level VMAX array and EMC's array for small to mid-size enterprises. Two other higher-end VMAX's that are also part of this family -- the VMAX 20K and the VMAX 40K -- already support most of these enhancements.

The new VMAX 10K is 90% faster in running Oracle in VMware virtualized environments and contains 50% more processor cores than previous models, according to EMC. It uses 12 Intel 2.8GHz Westmere 6 Core CPUs for performance enhancements and a new Virtual Matrix Interconnect, which is 10% faster than previous models, EMC says. (Previously, the 10K used eight 2.4GHz Westmere CPUs.)

The Virtual Matrix Interconnect, which is common to all VMAX models, allows scaling of system resources by combining VMAX 10K engines. Each 10K engine or controller consists of two directors and redundant interfaces to the Interconnect. The two directors each consolidate front-end, global memory and back-end functions, allowing direct memory access to I/O operations.

[ How has EMC responded to the rise of non-structured data and Flash-based storage? See EMC's Storage Strategy. ]

A combination of the Westmere CPUs and the Virtual Matrix Interconnect account for twice the back-end IOPS and a 30% increase on front-end bandwidth, according to the company. This increased performance means that the VMAX 10K can handle more workloads, higher capacity can be supported and advanced technologies, such as replication, will have less impact on the system, EMC says.

The VMAX 10K can support up to eight controllers, each with as much as 512GB of cache memory. The VMAX 10K can start small as well, configured with only a single storage engine and 24 drives.

In addition, the VMAX 10K now supports mixed configurations of 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives and support for denser 2.5-inch drives, allowing a 33% reduction in size and weight over 3.5-inch drives. As many as 1,560 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives or as many as 1,200 2.5-inch drives can be configured in a VMAX 10, for a maximum useable capacity of 1.5PB. Further, the VMAX 10K supports Federated Tiered Storage, which allows third-party storage to be managed by the VMAX. This consolidation allows storage administrators to integrate old or stranded storage as well as enterprise multi- and single-level cell Flash memory with the VMAX.

The VMAX 10K also now supports Data-at-Rest Encryption, which encrypts data on all drive types. The encryption is AES256 fixed block, which has no performance impact.

EMC enhanced the rest of the VMAX family with a new feature called Host I/O Limits. With this feature, storage administrators can choose how many IOPs or how much bandwidth is allocated for each application or user. For instance, applications such as databases require more performance than applications such as email.

The company also integrated its EMC Unisphere management platform with VMware, VFCache, IPv6 and Windows 2012.

Compression of inactive data has been added through enhancements to the Enginuity operating system. This compression can result in a 2:1 capacity savings, EMC says. Compression can be controlled by the storage administrator setting a threshold, which starts the compression process.

Finally, the VMAX 10K supports not only EMC racks but also third-party racks, allowing customers to standardize their data center designs.

Our four business scenarios show how to improve disaster recovery, boost disk utilization and speed performance. Also in the new, all-digital Storage Virtualization Gets Real issue of InformationWeek SMB: While Intel remains the biggest manufacturer of chips in the world, the next few years will prove vexing for the company. (Free registration required.)

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.

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