EMC Symmetrix: Calculations for Heads, Tracks, Cylinders, GB

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

Symmetrix Disk Drive

Here is the quick and dirty math on EMC Symmetrix Heads, Tracks, Cylinder sizes to actual usable GB’s of space.

Based on different generations of Symmetrix systems, here is how the conversions work.

Before we jump into each model type, lets look at what the basics are, with the following calculations.





There are s number of splits (hyper) per physical device.

There are n number of cylinders per split (hyper)

There are 15 tracks per cylinder (heads)

There are either 64 or 128 blocks of 512 bytes per track


All the calculations discussed here are for Open Systems (FBA) device types. Different device emulations like 3380K, 3390-1, 3390-2, 3390-3, 3390-4, 3390-27, 3390-54 have different bytes/track, different bytes/cylinder and cylinders/volume.


Symmetrix 8000/DMX/DMX-2 Series

Enginuity Code: 5567, 5568, 5669, 5670, 5671

Includes EMC Symmetrix 8130, 8230, 8430, 8530, 8730, 8830, DMX1000, DMX2000, DMX3000 and various different configurations within those models.

GB = Cylinders * 15 * 64 * 512 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024

eg: 6140 Cylinder devices equates to 2.81 GB of usable data

6140 * 15 * 64 * 512 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 = 2.81 GB

Cylinders = GB / 15 / 64 / 512 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024


15 = tracks per cylinder

64 = blocks per track

512 = bytes per block

1024 = conversions of bytes to kb to mb to gb.


Symmetrix DMX-3/DMX-4 Series

Enginuity Code: 5771, 5772, 5773

Includes EMC Symmetrix DMX-3, DMX-4 and various different configurations within those models.

GB = Cylinders * 15 * 128 * 512 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024

Eg: 65520 Cylinder device equates to 59.97 GB of usable data

65540 * 15 * 128 * 512 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 = 59.97 GB

Cylinders = GB / 15 / 128 / 512 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024

15 = tracks per cylinder

128 = blocks per track

512 = bytes per block

1024 = conversions of bytes to kb to mb to gb


Symmetrix V-Max

Enginuity Code: 5874

Includes EMC Symmetrix V-Max and various different configurations within this model.

GB = Cylinders * 15 * 128 * 512 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024

Eg: 262668 Cylinder device equates to 240.47 GB of usable data

262668 * 15 * 128 * 512 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 = 240.47 GB

Cylinders = GB / 15 / 128 / 512 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024

15 = tracks per cylinder

128 = blocks per track

512 = bytes per block

8 bytes = 520-512 used for T10-DIF

1024 = conversions of bytes to kb to mb to gb

Drive format on a V-Max is 520 bytes, out of which 8 bytes are used for T10-DIF ( A post on DMX-4 and V-Max differences).

EMC Symmetrix: BIN file

March 12th, 2010 13 comments

EMC Symmetrix BIN file, largely an unknown topic in the storage industry and practically there is no available information related to it. This post is just an attempt to shed some light as to what a BIN file is, how it works, what’s in it and why is it essential with the Enginuity code.

Some EMC folks have capitalized on the BIN file as to the personality it brings to the Symmetrix, while the EMC competition always uses it against them as it introduces complexities in the storage environment with management and change control.


Personally I feel a Symmetrix wouldn’t be a Symmetrix if the BIN file weren’t there. The personality, characteristics, robustness, compatibility, flexibility, integration with OS’s, etc wouldn’t be there if the BIN file didn’t exist.


With the total number of OS’s, device types, channel interfaces and flags it supports today, sort of making it one of the most compatible storage arrays in the market. The configuration and compatibility on the Symmetrix can be verified using the E-Lab navigator available on Powerlink.


So here are some facts about the BIN file

  • Only used with Symmetrix systems (Enginuity Code)
  • BIN file stands for BINARY file.
  • BIN file holds all information about the Symmetrix configuration
  • One BIN file per system serial number is required.
  • BIN file was used with Symmetrix Gen 1 in 1990 and is still used in 2010 with Symmetrix V-Max systems.
  • BIN file holds information on SRDF configurations, total memory, memory in slots, serial number of the unit, number of directors, type of directors, director flags, engines, engine ports, front end ports, back end ports, drives on the loop, drives on the SCSI bus, number of drives per loop, drive types in the slots, drive speeds, volume addresses, volume types, meta’s, device flags and many more settings.
  • The setup for host connection if the OS is Open Systems or Mainframe environments using FICON, ESCON, GbE, FC, RF, etc is all defined in the BIN file. Also director emulations, drive formats if OSD or CKD, format types, drive speeds, etc is all defined in the BIN file.
  • BIN file is required to make a system active. It is created based on customer specifications and installed by EMC during the initial setup.
  • Any ongoing changes in the environment related to hardware upgrades, defining devices, changing flags, etc is all accomplished using BIN file changes.
  • BIN file changes can be accomplished 3 ways.
  • BIN file change for hardware upgrades is typically performed by EMC only.
  • BIN file change for other changes that are device, director, flags, meta’s, SRDF configurations etc is either performed through the SYMAPI infrastructure using SymCLI or ECC (Now Ionix) or SMC (Symmetrix Management Console) by the customer. (Edited based on the comments: Only some changes now require traditional BIN file change, typically others are performed using sys calls in enginuity environment)
  • Solutions enabler is required on the Symcli, ECC, SMC management stations to enable SYMAPI infrastructure to operate.
  • VCMDB needs to be setup on the Symmetrix for SymCLI, ECC, SMC related changes to work.
  • Gatekeeper devices need to be setup on the Symmetrix front end ports for SymCLI, ECC, SMC changes to work
  • For Symmetrix Optimizer to work in your environment, you need DRV devices setup on your Symmetrix.(EDITED based on comments: Only required until DMX platform. Going forward with DMX3/4 & V-Max platforms it uses sys calls to perform these Optimizer changes).


Back in the day

All and any BIN file changes on the Symmetrix 3.0, Symmetrix 4.0 used to be performed by EMC from the Service Processor. Over the years with introduction of SYMAPI and other layered software products, now seldom is EMC involved in the upgrade process.


Hardware upgrades

BIN File changes typically have to be initiated and performed by EMC, again these are the hardware upgrades. If the customer is looking at adding 32GB’s of Cache to the existing DMX-4 system or adding new Front End connectivity or upgrading 1200 drive system to 1920 drives, all these require BIN file changes initiated and performed by EMC. To my understanding the turn around time is just a few days with these changes, as it requires change control and other processes within EMC.


Customer initiated changes

Configuration changes around front end ports, creating volumes, creating meta’s, volume flags, host connectivity, configuration flags, SRDF volume configurations, SRDF replication configurations, etc can all be accomplished through the customer end using the SYMAPI infrastructure (with SymCLI or ECC or SMC).


Enginuity upgrade

Upgrading the microcode (Enginuity) on a DMX or a V-Max is not a BIN file change, but rather is a code upgrade. Back in the days, many upgrades were performed offline, but in this day and age, all changes are online and accomplished with minimum pains.



So EMC has moved quite ahead with the Symmetrix architecture over the past 20 years, but the underlying BIN file change requirements haven’t changed over these 8 generations of Symmetrix.

Any and all BIN file changes are recommended to be done during quite times (less IOPS), at schedule change control times. Again these would include the ones that EMC is performing from a hardware perspective or the customer is performing for device/flag changes.


The process

During the process of a BIN file change, the configuration file typically ending with the name *.BIN is loaded to all the frontend directors, backend directors, including the global cache. After the upload, the system is refreshed with this new file in the global cache and the process makes the new configuration changes active. This process of refresh is called IML (Initial Memory Load) and the BIN file is typically called IMPL (Initial Memory Program Load) file.

A customer initiated BIN file works in a similar way, where the SYMAPI infrastructure that resides on the service processor allows the customer to interface with the Symmetrix to perform these changes. During this process, the scripts verify that the customer configurations are valid and then perform the changes and make the new configuration active.

To query the Symmetrix system for configuration details, reference the SymCLI guide. Some standard commands to query your system would include symcfg, symcli, symdev, symdisk, symdrv, symevent, symhost, symgate, syminq, symstat commands and will help you navigate and find all the necessary details related to your Symmetrix. Also similar information in a GUI can be obtained using ECC and SMC. Both will allow the customer to initiate SYMAPI changes.

Unless something has changed with the V-Max, typically to get an excel based representation of your BIN file, ask your EMC CE.



You cannot run two BIN files in a single system, though at times the system can end up in a state where you can have multiple BIN files on various directors. This phenomenon typically doesn’t happen to often, but an automated script when not finished properly can put the system in this state. At this point the Symmetrix will initiate a call home immediately and the PSE labs should typically be able to resolve these issues.

Additional software like Symmetrix Optimizer also uses the underlying BIN file infrastructure to make changes to the storage array to move hot and cold devices based on the required defined criteria. There have been quite a few known cases of Symmetrix Optimizer causing the above phenomenon of multiple BIN files. , Though many critics will disagree with that statement. (EDITED based on comments: Only required until DMX platform. Going forward with DMX3/4 & V-Max platforms it uses sys calls to perform these Optimizer changes).


NOTE: One piece of advice, never run SYMCLI or ECC scripts for BIN file changes through a VPN connected desktop or laptop. Always run all necessary SymCLI / SMC / ECC scripts for changes from a server in your local environment. Very highly recommend, never attempt to administer your Symmetrix system with an iPhone or a Blackberry.

Hope in your quest to get more information on BIN files, this serves as the starting point..



EMC Symmetrix File System (SFS)

March 8th, 2010 4 comments

Very little is known about the Symmetrix File System largely known as SFS. Symmetrix File System is an EMC IP and practically only used within the Symmetrix environment for housekeeping, security, access control, stats collection, performance data, algorithm selection, etc.

If there are any facts about SFS that are known to you, please feel free to leave a comment. This post talks about the effects of SFS and not really the underlying file system architecture.

Some facts about the Symmetrix File System are highlighted below.

  • Symmetrix File System (SFS) resides on volumes that have specially been created for this purpose on the Symmetrix
  • SFS volumes are created during the initial Enginuity Operating Environment load (Initial install)
  • 4 Volumes (2 Mirrored Pairs) are created during this process
  • SFS volumes were introduced with Symmetrix Series 8000, Enginuity 5567 and 5568


  • 4 SFS volumes are spread across multiple Disk Directors (Backend Ports) for redundancy
  • SFS volumes are considered as reserved space and not available to use by the host
  • Symmetrix 8000 Series: 4 SFS volumes, 3GB each (cylinder size 6140). Reserved space is 3GB x 4 vols = 12 GB total
  • Symmetrix DMX/DMX-2: 4 SFS volumes, 3GB each (cylinder size 6140). Reserved space is 3GB x 4 vols = 12 GB total
  • Symmetrix DMX-3/DMX-4: 4 SFS volumes, 6GB each (cylinder size 6140). Reserved space is 6GB x 4 vols = 24 GB total, (It’s different how the GB is calculated based on cylinder size on a DMX/DMX-2 vs a DMX-3/DMX-4)
  • Symmetrix V-Max: 4 SFS volumes, 16GB each, Reserved space is 16GB x 4 vols = 64GB total
  • SFS volumes cannot reside on EFD (Enterprise Flash Drives)
  • SFS volumes cannot be moved using FAST v1 and/or FAST v2
  • SFS volumes cannot be moved using Symmetrix Optimizer
  • SFS volumes cannot reside on Vault Drives or Save Volumes
  • SFS volumes are specific to a Symmetrix (Serial Number) and do not need migration
  • SFS volumes are managed through Disk Directors (Backend Ports) only
  • SFS volumes cannot be mapped to Fiber Directors (now FE – Frontend Ports)


  • SFS volumes are write enabled but can only be interfaced and managed through the Disk directors (Backend Ports).
  • SFS volumes can go write disabled, which could cause issues around VCMDB. VCMDB issues can cause host path (HBA) and disk access issues.
  • SFS volume corruption can cause hosts to lose access to disk volumes.
  • If SFS volumes get un-mounted on a Fiber Director (Frontend Port), can result into DU (Data Unavailable) situations.


  • Since the SFS volumes are only interfaced through the Disk Directors (Backend Ports), the PSE lab will need to be involved in fixing any issues.
  • SFS volumes can be VTOC’ed (formatted) and some key information below will need to be restored upon completion. Again this function can only be performed by PSE lab.
  • SFS volumes can be formatted while the Symmetrix is running, but in a SCSI-3 PGR reservation environment it will cause a cluster outage and/or a split brain.
  • No Symmetrix software (Timefinder, SYMCLI, ECC, etc) will be able to interface the system while the SFS volumes are being formatted.
  • The security auditing / access control feature is disabled during the format of SFS volumes, causing any Symmetrix internal or external software to stop functioning.
  • Access Control Database and SRDF host components / group settings will need to be restored after the SFS format

Access / Use case

  • Any BIN file changes to map SFS volumes to host will fail.
  • SFS volumes cannot be managed through SYMCLI or the Service Processor without PSE help.
  • SYMAPI (infrastructure) works along with SYMMWIN and SFS volumes to obtain locks, etc during any SYMCLI / SYMMWIN / ECC activity (eg. Bin Changes).
  • Since FAST v1 and FAST v2 reside as a policy engine outside the Symmetrix, it uses the underlying SFS volumes for changes (locks, etc).
  • Performance data relating to FAST would be collected within the SFS volumes, which FAST policy engine uses to gauge performance.
  • Performance data relating to Symmetrix Optimizer would be collected within the SFS volumes, which Optimizer uses to gauge performance.
  • Other performance data collected for the DMSP (Dynamic Mirror Service Policy).
  • All Audit logs, security logs, access control database, ACL’s etc is all stored within the SFS volumes.
  • All SYMCLI, SYMAPI, Solutions enabler, host, interface, devices, access control related data is gathered on the SFS volumes.
  • With the DMX-4 and the V-Max, all service process access, service processor initiated actions, denied attempts; RSA logs, etc are all stored on SFS volumes.


  • SFS structure is unknown
  • SFS architecture is unknown
  • SFS garbage collection  and discard policy is unknown
  • SFS records stored, indexing, etc is unknown
  • SFS inode structures, function calls, security settings, etc is unknown

As more information gets available, I will try to update this post. Hope this is useful with your research on SFS volumes…



HP Blades Day 2010: Paul Perez [CTO, Storageworks]

March 8th, 2010 No comments

During HP Blades Day 2010, we had a 30 min chat with Paul Perez – HP CTO, Storageworks Division.

Some of the highlights of the discussion with Paul are below

  • One master provisioning stack for all Storage
  • VDI solution from HP
  • Integration of IBRIX and Lefthand – Common Management Infrastructure
  • Proliant features of power management etc, to be passed onto the IBRIX and Lefthand with Convergence
  • Customer References
  • Bottlenecks in networking and storage today
  • Stranded pools of IP (Intellectual Property) within HP, Integration challenges
  • DataDomain
  • Integration of HP EVA teams with HP Unified Storage Division
  • Storage Tiering
  • “Memristor” – HP Labs
  • Industry Consolidation, business models
  • Convergence is Next Gen

The Video – Paul Perez Unplugged

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3