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EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 and Symmetrix V-Max: Basic Differences

June 30th, 2009 Devang Panchigar Leave a comment Go to comments

EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 and Symmetrix V-Max: Basic Differences

In this post we will cover some important aspects / properties / characteristics / differences between the EMC
Symmetrix DMX-4 and EMC Symmetrix V-Max. It seems like a lot of users are searching on blog posts about this

From a high level, I have tried to cover the differences in terms of performance and architecture related to the
directors, engines, cache, drives, etc

It might be a good idea to also run both the DMX-4 and V-max systems through IOmeter to collect some basic
comparisons between the front end and coordinated backend / cache performance data.

Anyways enjoy this post, and possibly look for some more related data in the future post.

EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 EMC Symmetrix V-Max

Called EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 Called EMC Symmetrix V-Max

DMX: Direct Matrix Architecture V-Max: Virtual Matrix Architecture

Max Capacity: 1 PB Raw Storage Max Capacity: 2 PB of Usable Storage

Max Drives: 1900. On RPQ: 2400 max Max Drives: 2400

EFD’s Supported EFD’s Supported

Symmetrix Management Console 6.0 Symmetrix Management Console 7.0

Solutions Enabler 6.0 Solutions Enabler 7.0

EFD: 73GB, 146GB, 200GB, 400GB EFD: 200GB, 400GB

FC Drives: 73GB, 146GB, 300GB, FC Drives: 73GB, 146GB, 300GB, 400GB

400GB, 450GB

SATA II: 500GB, 1000 GB SATA II: 1000 GB

FC Drive Speed: 10K or 15K FC Drive Speed: 15K

SATA II Drive Speed: 7.2K SATA II Drive Speed: 7.2K

Predecessor of DMX-4 is DMX-3 Predecessor of V-Max is DMX-4

DMX-4 management has got a bit Ease of Use with Management – atleast
easy compared to the previous with SMC 7.0 or so called ECC lite
generation Symmetrix

4 Ports per Director 8 Ports per Director

No Engine based concept Engine based concept

24 slots The concept of slots is gone

1 System bay, 9 Storage bays 1 System bay, 10 Storage bays

No engines 8 Engines in one System (serial number)

64 Fiber Channel total ports on all 128 Fiber Channel total ports on
directors for host connectivity directors/engines for host connectivity

32 FICON ports for host connectivity 64 FICON ports for host connectivity

32 GbE iSCSI ports 64 GbE iSCSCI ports

Total Cache: 512GB with 256 GB Total Cache: 1024 GB with 512 GB usable
usable (mirrored) (mirrored)

Drive interface speed either 2GB or Drive interface speed 4GB

4GB, drives auto negotiate speed

Green color drive LED means 2GB Only 4GB drive speed supported.
loop speed, Blue color drive LED
means 4GB loop speed

512 byte style drive (format) 520-byte style drive (8 bytes used for
storing data check info). Remember the
clarion drive styles, well the data stored in
both the cases is different. The 8 bytes
used with the Symmetrix V-Max are the
data integrity field based on the algorithm
D10-TIF standard proposal

FAST: Fully Automated Storage FAST: Fully Automated Storage Tiering will
Tiering may not be supported on be supported later this year on the V-Max
DMX-4’s (most likely since the support systems
might come based on a microcode
level rather than a hardware level)

Microcode: 5772 / 5773 runs DMX-4’s Microcode: 5874 runs V-Max

Released in July 2007 Released in April 2009

Concepts of Directors and Cache on Concept of condensed Director and Cache

separate physical slots / cards on board

DMX-4 Timefinder performance has 300% better TImefinder Performance

been better compared to previous compared to DMX-4

No IP Management interface into the IP Management interface to the Service

Service Processor Processor, can be managed through the
customer’s Network – IP infrastructure
Symmetrix Management Console is Symmetrix Management Console to be
not charged for until (free) DMX-4 licensed at a cost starting the V-Max

Architecture of DMX-4 has been Architecture of V-Max is completely

similar to the architecture of its redesigned with this generation and is
predecessor DMX-3 completely different from the predecessor

Microcode 5772 and 5773 has be build Microcode 5874 has been build on base
on previous generation of microcode 5773 from previous generation DMX-4
5771 and 5772 respectively

No RVA: Raid Virtual Architecture Implementation of RVA: Raid Virtual


Largest supported volume is 64GB per Large Volume Support: 240GB per LUN
LUN (Open Systems) and 223GB per LUN
(Mainframe Systems)

128 hypers per Drive (luns per drive) 512 hypers per Drive (luns per drive)

Configuration change not as robust as V-Max systems introduced the concept of

V-Max Systems concurrent configuration change allowing
customers to perform change
management on the V-Max systems
combined to work through single set of
scripts rather than a step based process.

DMX-4 does present some challenges Reduced mirror positions giving customers
with mirror positions good flexibility for migration and other

No Virtual Provisioning with RAID 5 Virtual Provisioning allowed now with RAID
and RAID 6 devices 5 and RAID 6 devices

No Autoprovisioning groups Concept of Autoprovisioning groups

introduced with V-Max Systems

Minimum size DMX-4: A single storage Minimum size V-Max SE (single engine)
cabinet system, supporting 240 drives system can be purchased with 1 engine
can be purchased with a system and 360 drive max.

No concepts of Engine, architecture Each Engine consists of 4 Quad Core Intel

based on slots Chips with either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB
cache on each engine with 16 front-end
ports with each engine. Backend ports per
engine is 4 ports connecting System bay
to storage bay

Power PC chips used on directors Intel Quad Core chips used on Engines

Powerpath VE support for Vsphere – Powerpath VE supported for Vsphere –

Virtual machines for DMX-4 Virtual machines for V-Max

Concept of Backplane exists with this V-Max fits in the category of Modular
generation of storage Storage and eliminates the bottle neck of
a backplane

DMX-4 was truly sold as a generation V-Max systems have been sold with a big
upgrade to DMX-3 marketing buzz around hundreds of
engines, millions of IOPs, TB’s of cache,
Virtual Storage

Systems cannot be federated The concept of Federation has been

introduced with V-Max systems, but
systems are not federated in production or
customer environments yet

Directors are connected to the system Engines are connected through copper
through a legacy backplane (DMX – RAPID IO interconnect at 2.5GB speed
Direct Matrix Architecture).

No support for FCOE or 10GB Ethernet No support for FCOE or 10GB Ethernet

No support for 8GB loop interface No support for 8GB loop interface speeds

Strong Marketing with DMX-4 and Virtual Marketing for Virtual Matrix (V-
good success Max) since the product was introduced
with FAST as a sales strategy with FAST
not available for at least until the later
part of the year.

No support for InfiniBand expected Would InfiniBand be supported in the

with DMX-4 future to connect engines at a short or
long distance (several meters)

No Federation With Federation expected in the upcoming

versions of V-Max, how would the cache
latency play a role if you had federation
between systems that are 10 to 10 meters

Global Cache on Global Memory Global Cache on local engines chips: again
Directors as cache is shared between multiple
engines, cache latency is expected as
multiple engines request this IO

DMX-4 is a monster storage system The V-Max building blocks (engines) can
create a much larger storage monster

256GB total vault on DMX-4 systems 200GB of vault space per Engine, with 8
engines, we are looking at 1.6TB of vault

Performance on DMX-4 has been IOPS per PORT of V-Max Systems

great compared to its previous
generation DMX, DMX2, DMX-3
128 MB/s Hits

385 Read

385 Write
IOPS for 2 PORT of V-Max Systems

128MB/s Hits

635 Read

640 Write

V-Max performs better compared to 2.2 x Performance on FICON compared to

DMX-4 FICON DMX-4 Systems.

2 Ports can have as many as 17000 IOPS


Large Metadata overhead with the A reduction of 50 to 75% overhead with

amount of volumes, devices, cache the V-Max related to metadata
slots, etc, etc
SRDF Technology Supported New SRDF/EDP (extended distant

Diskless R21 passthrough device, no disk

required for this passthrough

Symmetrix Management Console 6.0 Templates and Wizards within the new
supported, no templates and wizards SMC 7.0 console
Total SRDF Groups supported 128 Total SRDF Groups supported 250
16 Groups on Single Port for SRDF 64 Groups on Single Port for SRDF
V-Max comparison on Connectivity 2X Connectivity compared to the DMX-4
V-Max comparison on Usability 3X usability compared to the DMX-4
DMX-4 was the first version of RAID 6 is 3.6 times better than the DMX-4
Symmetrix where RAID6 support was
rolled out
RAID6 support on DMX-4 is and was a RAID 6 on V-Max (performance) is
little premature equivalent to RAID 1 on DMX-4
SATA II performance on DMX-4 is SATA II drives do not support the 520-
better than V-Max byte style. EMC takes those 8 bytes (520 –
512) of calculation for data integrity T10-
DIF standard proposal and writes it in
blocks or chunks of 64K through out the
entire drive causing performance
SATA II performance on DMX-4 is The performance of SATA II drives on V-
better than V-Max Max is bad the DMX-4 systems
Fiber Channel performance better Fiber Channel performance compared to
compared to DMX and DMX-2’s. DMX-4 improved by about 36%
DMX-4 start supporting 4GB interface Fiber Channel performance 5000 IOPS per
host connectivity channel
RVA not available on DMX-4 platforms RVA: Raid Virtual Architecture allows to
have one mirror position for RAID volumes
allowing customers to used the rest of the
3 positions for either BCV’s, SRDF,
Migration, etc, etc.
No MIBE and SIB with DMX-4. Rather MIBE: Matrix Interface Board Enclosure
the DMX-4 directors are connected connects the Odd and the Evens or (Fabric
through a common backplane. A and Fabric B) Directors together. The
SIB (System Interface Board) connects
these engines together using Rapid IO
Director count goes from Director 1 on Director count goes from 1 on the bottom
the left to Director 18 (Hex) on the to 16 (F) on the top, based on each engine
right having 2 directors. 8 Engines, 16
2 Directors failures if not in the same Single engine failure (2 Directors) will not
fabric or bus, rather are not DI’s (Dual cause Data Loss / Data Unavailable and
Initiators) of each other will not cause the system will not cause an outage.
a system outage or data loss / data Failed components can be Directors,
unavailable Engines, MIBE, PS’s, Fan, Cache in a
single Engine or 2 directors.
Single loop outages will not cause DU Single loop outages will not cause DU
More architectural details related to drives, cache, directors, cabinets, Mibe, SIB, Service Processor to come in
the V-Max architecture expansion and modularity post over the next week.


Related posts:

1. EMC Symmetrix V-Max: Supported drive types

2. EMC Symmetrix DMX-4: Supported Drive Types

3. Symmetrix BIN file

4. EMC Symmetrix V-Max: Enginuity 5874

5. Enhancements to EMC Symmetrix V-Max Systems coming!!

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derekpm 8 months ago

• Rather interesting. Has few times re-read for this purpose to remember. Thanks for interesting article.
Waiting for trackback
• Flag
• LikeReplyReply

Enki 7 months ago

• Good list of differences!

A couple of clarifications
- V-Max supports 10K drives (400GB available)
- Virtual Provisioning supports Mirrored, RAID 5, & RAID 6 on both DMX and V-Max
- The small system for DMX (the 950) and the V-Max SE both support 120 drives in one rack with the
option of one additional rack to take them to 360 drives.
• Flag
• LikeReplyReply

StorageNerve 7 months ago in reply to Enki

• Hi Enki,

Thanks for pointing to these corrections.

I do remember the limitation with RAID 5 and RAID 6 devices related to Virtual provisioning on 5773? Has
that been changed?

Cheers, @storagenerve
• Flag
• LikeReplyReply


storagenerve 1 week ago

From twitter via BackType

• This has been the post with the most number of hits in 2010, what does it say about #EMC #V-Max customers migrating to

storagenerve 2 weeks ago

From twitter via UberVU

• Believe it or not, this has been the post with the most number of hits in 2010, what does it say about
#EMC #V-Max

lamw 8 months ago

From twitter via UberVU

• RT @hany_michael: very interesting comparison between EMC DMX4 and V-MAX :

hany_michael 8 months ago

From twitter via UberVU

• very interesting comparison between EMC DMX4 and V-MAX :

storagenerve 8 months ago

From twitter via UberVU

• EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 and V-Max: Differences -

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