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EMC Symmetrix, 20 Years in the making

July 29th, 2009 1 comment

So next year will mark a history of Symmetrix Products within EMC, still classified as one of the most robust systems out there after 20 years of its inception. In this blog post, we will talk about some facts on Symmetrix products as it relates to its features, characteristics, Enginuity microcode versions, model numbers, year released, etc.

Also in this blog post you will see links to most of my previous posts about Symmetrix products.

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So the journey of Symmetrix systems started with Moshe Yanai (along with his team) joining EMC in late 80’s. A floating story says, the idea of a cache based disk array was initially pitched to both IBM and HP and was shot down.  EMC was predominately a mainframe memory selling company back in the late 1980’s. The Symmetrix products completely changed the direction of EMC in a decade.

Joe Tucci comes in at the end of 90’s from Unisys with a big vision. Wanted to radically change EMC. Through new acquisitions, new technologies, vision and foremost the integration of all the technologies created today’s EMC.

Symmetrix has always been the jewel of EMC. Back in the Moshe days, the engineers were treated so royally (Have heard stories about helicopter rides and lavish parties with a satellite bus waiting outside for a support call). Then comes the Data General acquisition in late 90’s that completely changed the game.

Some people within EMC were against the DG acquisition and didn’t see much value in it. While the Clariion DG backplane is what changed the Symmetrix to a Symmetrix DMX – Fiber Based Drives. Over this past decade, EMC radically changes its position and focuses on acquisitions, support, products, quality, efficiency, usability and foremost changing itself from a hardware company to an Information Solutions company focusing on software as its integral growth factor.  New acquisitions like Legato, Documentum, RSA, kept on changing the culture and the growth focus within EMC.

Then came VMware and it changed the rules of the game, EMC’s strategic move to invest into VMware paid off big time.  Then happens the 3-way partnership between VMware – EMC – Cisco, to integrate next generation products, V-Max (Symmetrix), V-Sphere and UCS are born.

Here we are in 2009, almost at the end of 20 years since the inception of the Symmetrix, the name, the product, the Enginuity code, the robust characteristics, the investment from EMC all stays committed with changing market demands.

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Jumping back into the Symmetrix, here are a few articles you might find interesting, overall talking about various models, serial numbers of the machines and importantly a post on Enginuity Operating Environment.

To read about EMC Symmetrix Enginuity Operating Environment

To read about EMC Symmetrix Serial Number naming convention,

To read about EMC Symmetrix Models in a previous blog post

To read about various EMC models based on different Platforms

To read about all EMC Clariion models since the Data General Acquisition

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Symmetrix Family 1.0

ICDA – Integrated Cache Disk Array

Released 1990 and sold through 1993

A 24GB total disk space introduced

Wow, I was in elementary school or may be middle school when this first generation Symmetrix was released….

Symmetrix 4200

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Symmetrix Family 2.0

ICDA – Integrated Cache Disk Array

Released 1991 and sold through 1994

A 36GB total disk space

Mirroring introduced

Symmetrix 4400

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Symmetrix Family 2.5

ICDA – Integrated Cache Disk Array

Released 1992 and sold through 1995

RSF capabilities added

(I actually met a guy about 2 years ago, he was one of the engineers that had worked on developing the first RSF capabilities at EMC and was very instrumental in developing the Hopkinton PSE lab)

Symmetrix 4800:

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Symmetrix Family 3.0 also called Symmetrix 3000 and 5000 Series

Released 1994 and sold through 1997

ICDA: Integrated Cache Disk Array

Includes Mainframe Support (Bus & Tag)

Global Cache introduced

1GB total Cache

NDU – Microcode

SRDF introduced

Supports Mainframe and open systems both

Enginuity microcode 50xx, 51xx

Symmetrix 3100: Open systems support, half height cabinet, 5.25 inch drives

Symmetrix 5100: Mainframe support, half height cabinet, 5.25 inch drives

Symmetrix 3200: Open Systems support, single cabinet, 5.25 inch drives

Symmetrix 5200: Mainframe support, single cabinet, 5.25 inch drives

Symmetrix 3500: Open Systems support, triple cabinet, 5.25 inch drives

Symmetrix 5500: Mainframe support, triple cabinet, 5.25 inch drives

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Symmetrix Family 4.0 also called Symmetrix 3000 and 5000 Series

Released 1997 and sold through 2000

RAID XP introduced

3.5 Inch drive size introduced

On triple cabinet systems 5.25 inch drives used

Supports Mainframe and Open Systems both

Timefinder, Powerpath, Ultra SCSI support

Enginuity microcode 5265.xx.xx, 5266.xx.xx

Symmetrix 3330: Open Systems Support, half height cabinet, 32 drives, 3.5 inch drives

Symmetrix 5330: Mainframe Support, half height cabinet, 32 drives, 3.5 inch drives

Symmetrix 3430: Open Systems Support, single frame, 96 drives, 3.5 inch drives

Symmetrix 5430: Mainframe Support, single frame, 96 drives, 3.5 inch drives

Symmetrix 3700: Open Systems Support, triple cabinet, 128 drives, 5.25 inch drives

Symmetrix 5700: Mainframe Support, triple cabinet, 128 drives, 5.25 inch drives

To read about EMC Symmetrix Hardware Components

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Symmetrix Family 4.8 also called Symmetrix 3000 and 5000 Series

Released 1998 and sold through 2001

Symmetrix Optimizer Introduced

Best hardware so far: least outages, least problems and least failures (not sure if EMC will agree to it, most customers do)

3.5 inch drives used with all models

Enginuity microcode 5265.xx.xx, 5266.xx.xx, 5267.xx.xx

Symmetrix 3630: Open Systems support, half height cabinet, 32 drives

Symmetrix 5630: Mainframe support, half height cabinet, 32 drives

Symmetrix 3830: Open Systems support, single cabinet, 96 drives

Symmetrix 5830: Mainframe support, single cabinet, 96 drives

Symmetrix 3930: Open Systems support, triple cabinet, 256 drives

Symmetrix 5930: Mainframe support, triple cabinet, 256 drives

Models sold as 3630-18, 3630-36, 3630-50, 5630-18, 5630-36, 5630-50,3830-36, 3830-50, 3830-73, 5830-36, 5830-50, 5830-73, 3930-36, 3930-50, 3930-73, 5930-36, 5930-50, 5930-73 (the last two digits indicate the drives installed in the frame)

To read about EMC Symmetrix Hardware Components

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Symmetrix Family 5.0 also called Symmetrix 8000 Series

[ 3000 (open sytems) + 5000 (mainframe) = 8000 (support for both) ]

Supports Open Systems and Mainframe without BUS and TAG through ESCON

Released 2000 and sold through 2003

181GB Disk introduced

Enginuity microcode 5567.xx.xx, 5568.xx.xx

Symmetrix 8130: Slim cabinet, 48 drives

Symmetrix 8430: Single cabinet, 96 drives

Symmetrix 8730: Triple cabinet, 384 drives

Some models sold as 8430-36, 8430-73, 8430-181 or 8730-36, 8730-73, 8730-181 (the last two digits indicate the drives installed in the frame)

To read about EMC Symmetrix Hardware Components

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Symmetrix Family 5.5 LVD also called Symmetrix 8000 Series

Released 2001 and sold through 2004

LVD: Low Voltage Disk Introduced

146GB LVD drive introduced

Ultra SCSI drives cannot be used with the LVD frame

Mainframe optimized machines introduced

4 Slice directors introduced with ESCON and FICON

FICON introduced

Enginuity microcode 5567.xx.xx, 5568.xx.xx

Symmetrix 8230: Slim cabinet, 48 drives, (rebranded 8130, non lvd frame)

Symmetrix 8530: Single cabinet, 96 drives, (rebranded 8430, non lvd frame)

Symmetrix 8830: Triple cabinet, 384 drives, (rebranded 8730, non lvd frame)

Symmetrix 8230 LVD: LVD frame, slim cabinet, 48 LVD drives

Symmetrix 8530 LVD: LVD frame, single cabinet, 96 LVD drives

Symmetrix 8830 LVD: LVD frame, triple cabinet, 384 LVD drives

Symmetrix z-8530: LVD frame, Single cabinet, 96 drives, optimized for mainframes

Symmetrix z-8830: LVD frame, Triple cabinet, 384 drives, optimized for mainframe

Some models sold as 8530-36, 8530-73, 8530-146, 8530-181 or 8830-36, 8830-73, 8830-146, 8830-181 (the last two digits indicate the drives installed in the frame)

To read about EMC Symmetrix Hardware Components

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Symmetrix DMX or also called Symmetrix Family 6.0

Released Feb 2003 and sold through 2006

Direct Matrix Architecture (Data General Backplane) introduced

DMX800 was the first DMX system introduced

4 Slice directors introduced

RAID 5 introduced after being introduced on DMX-3

First generation with common DA / FA hardware

Introduction of modular power

Enginuity Microcode 5669.xx.xx, 5670.xx.xx, 5671.xx.xx

Symmetrix DMX800: Single cabinet, DAE based concept for drives, 96 drives (I swear, a customer told me, they have ghost like issues with their DMX800)

Symmetrix DMX1000: Single cabinet, 18 drives per loop, 144 drives total

Symmetrix DMX1000-P: Single cabinet, 9 drives per loop, 144 drives total, P= Performance System

Symmetrix DMX2000: Dual cabinet, modular power, 18 drives per loop, 288 drives

Symmetrix DMX2000-P: Dual cabinet, modular power, 9 drives per loop, 288 drives, P=Performance System

Symmetrix DMX3000-3: Triple cabinet, modular power, 18 drives per loop, 3 phase power, 576 drives

To read about EMC Symmetrix DMX Hardware components

To read about EMC Symmetrix DMX models and major differences

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Symmetrix DMX2 or also called Symmetrix Family 6.5

Released Feb 2004 and sold through 2007

Double the processing using DMX2

DMX and DMX2 frames are same, only directors from DMX must be changed to upgrade to DMX2, reboot of entire systems required with this upgrade

RAID 5 introduced after being introduced on DMX-3

64GB memory introduced

4 Slice Directors

Enginuity Microcode 5669.xx.xx, 5670.xx.xx, 5671.xx.xx

Symmetrix DMX801: 2nd generation DMX, Single cabinet, DAE based concept for drives, 96 drives, FC SPE 2 (I swear, a customer told me, they have ghost like issues with their DMX800)

Symmetrix DMX1000-M2: 2nd generation DMX, Single cabinet, 18 drives per loop, 144 drives

Symmetrix DMX1000-P2: 2nd generation DMX, Single cabinet, 9 drives per loop, 144 drives, P=Performance System

Symmetrix DMX2000-M2: 2nd generation DMX, Dual cabinet, 18 drives per loop, 288 drives

Symmetrix DMX2000-P2: 2nd generation DMX, Dual cabinet, 9 drives per loop, 288 drives, P=Performance System

Symmetrix DMX2000-M2-3: 2nd generation DMX, Dual cabinet, 18 drives per loop, 288 drives, 3 Phase power

Symmetrix DMX2000-P2-3: 2nd generation DMX, Dual cabinet, 9 drives per loop, 288 drives, P=Performance System, 3 Phase power

Symmetrix DMX3000-M2-3: 2nd generation DMX, Triple cabinet, 18 drives per loop, 576 drives, 3 Phase power

To read about EMC DMX Symmetrix Hardware components

To read about EMC Symmetrix DMX models and major differences

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Symmetrix DMX-3 or also called Symmetrix 7.0

Released July 2005 and still being sold

8 Slice directors

1920 disk (RPQ ‘ed to 2400 drives)

DAE based concept introduced

Symmetrix Priority Controls

RAID 5 introduced and then implemented on older DMX, DMX-2

Virtual LUN technology

SRDF enhancements

Concept of vaulting introduced

Enginuity microcode 5771.xx.xx, 5772.xx.xx

Symmetrix DMX-3 950: System Cabinet, Storage Bay x 2, 360 drives max, Modular Power, 3 Phase power

Symmetrix DMX-3: System Cabinet, Storage Bay x 8 (Expandable), 1920 drives max, RPQ’ed to 2400 drives, 3 Phase power

To read about differences between EMC Symmetrix DMX3 and DMX4 platforms

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Symmetrix DMX-4 or also called Symmetrix 7.0

Released July 2007 and still being sold

Virtual provisioning

Flash Drives

FC / SATA drives

RAID 6 introduced

SRDF enhancements

Total Cache: 512 GB

Total Storage: 1 PB

Largest drive supported 1TB SATA drive

Flash drives 73GB, 146GB later now support for 200GB and 400GB released

1920 drives max (RPQ’ed to 2400 drives)

Enginuity microcode 5772.xx.xx, 5773.xx.xx

Symmetrix DMX-4 950: System Cabinet, Storage Bay x 2, 360 drives max, Modular Power, 3 Phase power

Symmetrix DMX-4: System Cabinet, Storage Bay x 8 (Expandable), 1920 drives max, RPQ’ed to 2400 drives, Modular power, 3 Phase Power

Some models sold as DMX-4 1500, DMX-4 2500, DMX-4 3500 and DMX-4 4500

To read about a blog post on EMC Symmetrix: DMX4 Components

To read about differences between EMC Symmetrix DMX3 and DMX4 platforms

To read about different drives types supported on EMC Symmetrix DMX4 Platform

To read about differences between EMC Symmetrix DMX4 and V-Max Systems

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Symmetrix V-Max

(Released April 2009)

Enginuity Microcode 5874.xxx.xxx

Total number of drives supported: 2400

Total Cache: 1 TB mirrored (512GB usable)

Total Storage: 2 PB

All features on the V-Max have been discussed earlier on the blog post linked below

Symmetrix V-Max SE: Single System Bay, SE=Single Engine, Storage Bay x 2, 360 drives max, cannot be expanded to a full blown 8 engine system if purchased as a SE, 3 Phase power, Modular Power

Symmetrix V-Max: System Cabinet, Storage Bay x 10, 2400 drives max, modular power, 3 phase power

To read about differences between EMC Symmetrix DMX4 and V-Max Systems

To read about different drives types supported on EMC Symmetrix V-Max Platforms

To read all about the EMC Symmetrix V-Max Platform

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I could have easily added total memory capacity per frame, total number of dedicated DA/DAF slots, total slots, total universal slots, total memory slots, but then I didn’t know information on some of the old systems and didn’t want to be incorrect on them.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this post, with a bit of history related to the Symmetrix platform. I am pretty positive, as of today you will not find this consolidated information on any blog or the manufacturers website.

I really wish, EMC decided to open blogging to some Symmetrix, Clariion, Celerra, Centera specialist that support these systems on a day to day basis, the information that could come out from those guys could be phenomenal. Barry Burke writes a lot of stuff, but again a lot of FUD from him against IBM and HDS, its great reading him, but only a controlled amount of technical information comes from him.

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Storage Optimization

July 24th, 2009 No comments

Well the first question: What is Storage Optimization?

A lot of new storage technologies are up and coming that have either Storage Virtualization or Thin Provisioning built as its core value. Those technologies can help run your storage in a much efficient manner, but what are your options related to your existing infrastructure that may consist of EMC Symmetrix DMX & above, EMC Clariion CX & above, NetApp FAS series, NetApp G Series, NetApp V Series, HDS USP, HDS USPV, HDS AMS, IBM DS Series, HP Eva’s, LSI’s, SUN branded LSI’s, etc. I am not suggesting if you are running Storage Virtualization or Thin Provisioning you are running at 90 or 100 percent efficiency, there are still places where these technologies start building inefficiencies as your storage environment starts to mature.

The point I am trying to make is, what have you done last to optimize your Storage Environment. Over the past year, I have met a lot of customers including IT IT Planning folks, CIO organizations, IT Directors, Storage Managers, Storage Engineers where all these folks work so hard to maintain and manage IT Assets on the floor including Storage environments. A Storage Engineer is always busy trying to keep up with new projects, migrations, consolidations, etc. In the race of life to get promotion at work, make managers happy, keeping up with new technology & projects, we all forget about things we decided to do yesterday or rather the day you joined the organization.

When was the last time you thought about reducing your organizations OpEx and CapEx. When was the last time, you took your organization through a Storage Optimization exercise. Have you setup a Storage Economics practice within your Storage environments that would help you reclaim stranded storage, help you re-tier your storage based on business needs, help you increase utilization and reduce inefficiencies within your Storage Environments.

Responses we get talking to various Storage folks, we try to do the best we can to keep up with the day to day storage needs, and we went through an exercise to optimize our environment about 12 months ago.

Wait a minute, 12 months ago? Each wasted month is a savings lost.

In my previous blog posts, I have addressed some very fundamental issues related to Storage Environments that can help you achieve the necessary goals you might have for your organization.


Please see the related blog post below that show you how inefficiencies get built, how to your storage should be optimized and the overall savings you would realize as an organization:


Case Study:
We went through a POC for a customer with their existing storage environment (efficiency, utilization, tiering), Customer had some environments running 20% and 30% utilized with 1 single tier. They were looking to invest more into a specific storage platform. Apparently the folks were just astonished to review the results and the savings.

Total savings of 10 Million US dollars over 3 years with establishing a Storage Economics practice for their 1 PB Storage Environment.

The above savings were minuscule, if there is a customer with a larger environment, the savings would increase substantially.
This savings can possibly help you acquire new technology or can be given back to the organization, making you a hero, may be take you much closer to your dreams.

EMC Clariion Systems since the Data General Acquisition (10 Years)

July 23rd, 2009 No comments

Over the past 3 months, quite a few readers have asked me to write about various models that are associated with the EMC Clariion Generation of machines and its features.

To sum them all, here is the list…..


EMC Clariion FC Series (This may have been 1999 through 2003)

  • FC4300: Fiber Channel 4500 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC4500: Fiber Channel 4300 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1GB interface
  • FC4700: Fiber Channel 4700 Series, FC Disk, FC SP interface, 1 GB, 2 GB interfaces
  • IP4700: Internet Protocol 4700 Series, FC Disk, IP SP interface, 10/100 interfaces
  • FC5000: Fiber Channel 5000 Series, FC Disk, JBOD
  • FC5200: Fiber Channel 5200 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1GB interface
  • FC5300: Fiber Channel 5300 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5400: Fiber Channel 5400 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5500: Fiber Channel 5500 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5600: Fiber Channel 5600 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5700: Fiber Channel 5700 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB, 2GB interface

EMC Clariion CX Series (This generation released 2003 through 2006)

  • CX200: Generation 1 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX200LC: Generation 1 CX, Fiber Channel CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface with one SP and one SPS
  • CX400: Generation 1 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX600: Generation 1 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX300: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX500: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX700: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX300i: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP interface
  • CX500i: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP interface
  • CX700i: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP interface

Each of the model types has certain set of features to it; click here to read the previous blog post on the major differences for each models.


EMC Clariion CX3 Series (This generation released 2006 through 2009)

  • CX3-10: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-20: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-20C: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-20F: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-40: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB
  • CX3-40C: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB
  • CX3-40F: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale  Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB
  • CX3-80: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB

Each of the model types has certain set of features to it; click here to read the previous blog post on the major differences for each models.


EMC Clariion CX4 Ultraflex Series (This generation was released in 2008)

  • CX4-120C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-120C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-120: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-240C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-240C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-240: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-480C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-480C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-480: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-960C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-960C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-960: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB

Each of the model types has certain set of features to it: click here to read the previous blog post on the major differences for each model type.

EMC Clariion AX Series

  • AX100: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB
  • AX100SC: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB, single controller
  • AX100i: SATA Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB
  • AX100SCi: SATA Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB, single controller
  • AX150: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB
  • AX150i: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB
  • AX4-5F: SATA, SAS Disk, SP FC interface 4GB
  • AX4-5FSC: SATA, SAS Disk, SP FC interface 4GB, single controller
  • AX4-5i: SATA, SAS Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB
  • AX4-5iSC: SATA, SAS Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB, single controller

A previous blog post that discusses full functionalities of the AX-4 platform, please read here.

Also mid last year, in a blog post we discussed various EMC Symmetrix, Clariion, Celerra and DL Series of machines.


Just for reference,

The previous generations of Clariion (during the Pre-EMC days or the Data General Clariion)

  • C1xx0: C Series Clariion, 10 Slot System, FC Interface, SCSI Disk
  • C2xx0: C Series Clariion, 20 Slot System, FC interface, SCSI Disk
  • C3xx0: C Series Clariion, 30 Slot System, FC interface, SCSI Disk

EMC Symmetrix: Dynamic Hot Spares

July 22nd, 2009 No comments

There are two types of sparing strategies available on EMC Symmetrix Series of machines.

Dynamic Hot Sparing:
Starting the Symmetrix 4.0, EMC had introduced dynamic hot spares in its Enginuity code to support customers against failing disk drives and reducing the probability of a data loss. Available there onwards on each version of Symmetrix, customers have been able to use this Hot Sparing technology. Today the Dynamic sparing is available on Symmetrix 4.0, Symmetrix 4.8, Symmetrix 5.0, Symmetrix 5.5, DMX, DMX2, DMX3, and DMX4 systems.

Permanent Spares: Was introduced starting the Symmetrix DMX3 products, now available on DMX4’s and V-Max systems. I believe, Enginuity code 5772 started supporting Permanent Spares to guard customers against failing disk drives to further help reduce any performance, redundancy and processing degradation on the Symmetrix systems with features that were not available with the Dynamic Hot Sparing.

Highlights of Permanent Sparing

Due to some design, performance, redundancy limitations and Symmetrix mirror positions, dynamic hot spares were becoming a bottleneck related to customer internal job processing, example: a failed 1TB SATA drive sync to dynamic spare might take more than 8 to 48 hours.  While a similar process to remove the dynamic spare and equalize the replaced drive might take the same. During this time the machine is more or less in a lock down (Operational but not configurable).

Due to these limitations, a concept of Permanent spares was introduced on EMC Symmetrix systems, which would help fulfill some gaps the Dynamic hot spares technology has. Following are the criteria for Dynamic Hot Spares.

To read about EMC Symmetrix : Permanent Hot Spares


Some important things to consider with Dynamic Hot Sparing

  1. Supported through microcode (Enginuity) version starting Symmetrix Family 4.0, support extended through all later releases of Enginuity until DMX-4 (5773).
  2. Dynamic Hot Spares configured and enabled in the backend by an EMC CE.
  3. No BIN file change is performed as the Dynamic Hot Spare gets invoked or removed upon a disk drive failure.
  4. No BIN file change is allowed until the Dynamic Hot Spare is removed from the active used devices pool and inserted back into the Spares pool.
  5. An EMC CE will need to attend site to replace the failed drive and put the dynamic hot spare back in the pool of devices available for sparing.
  6. Enginuity does not check for performance and redundancy when the dynamic hot spare is invoked.
  7. In the previous generation of Symmetrix systems, an exact match (speed, size, block size) was required with Dynamic hot spares. Starting I believe the 5772 (DMX3 onwards) version of microcode that requirement is not necessary. Now larger or smaller multiple dynamic spares can be spread across protecting multiple devices not ready, the one to one relationship (failed drive to dynamic spare) is not true any more.
  8. Related to performance on DMX3 systems and above, if correct dynamic spares are not configured, customers can see issues around redundancy and performance. Example, A 10K drive can be invoked automatically against a failed drive that is 15K causing performance issues. Also a drive on the same loop as other raid group devices can be invoked as a hot spare, potentially causing issues if the entire loop was to go down.
  9. Dynamic spares will not take all the characteristics of failed drives. Example, mirror positions.
  10. While the Permanent Spare or Dynamic Hot Spare is not invoked and is sitting in the machine waiting for a failure, these devices are not accessible from the front end (customer). The folks back at the PSE labs, will still be able to interact with these devices and invoke it for you incase of a failure or a proactive failure or for any reasons the automatic invoke fails.
  11. If a Permanent Spare fails to invoke, a Dynamic Hot Spare is invoked, if a Dynamic Hot Spare fails to invoke, the customer data stays unprotected.
  12. Dynamic Hot Spare is supported with RAID-1, RAID-10, RAID-XP, RAID-5 and various configurations within each Raid type.  Dynamic hot sparing does not work with RAID-6 devices.
  13. As far as I know for the V-Max systems, Dynamic hot sparing is not supported.


Some important benefits of Dynamic Hot Sparing

  1. Dynamic Hot Sparing kicks in when Permanent Sparing fails to invoke
  2. Provides additional protection against data loss

No BIN file change is performed with Dynamic Hot Sparing

As a requirement to all the new systems that are configured now, sparing is required. Hope this provides a vision into configuring your next EMC Symmetrix on the floor.