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EMC Drives at Price/Performance by Rebuilding VNX Guts

There is no doubt that vendors are hotly competing for all those exabytes of storage that IT is eating up these days. But yesterday's storage platforms often can't keep up with either the growth of data or the pace of technology. EMC for one isn't going to lay back and milk their footprint with aging solutions. Today they are announcing a new version of the unified mid-range VNX that's been heavily re-engineered to take advantage of increasingly cost-effective compute and flash resources.

First, 10-20% of the code running in a VNX was rewritten in a multi-year project ("MCx") to make the majority of the processes running fully multi-threaded (and increasingly pipelined). With Intel multi-core chips rapidly growing in size (cores), single threaded processing was leaving a lot of compute cycles idle and limiting the throughputs of any given process. Some of the storage side processes improved include things like the DRAM cache, EMC's FAST (automated tiering/caching), and RAID management. We expect that there is even more potential here as EMC multi-threads and folds in other and newer processes in future versions.

Second, the FAST cache can now even better leverage flash for the 5% of hot data in the average environment. The extra computing efficiency helps flash optimize the system, aggregating IO into wider stripes for flash and dedupe in memory, now reaching 1M IOPS with lower latency.

Altogether, this is really a new VNX delivering highly competitive price/performance for both block and file. A real hybrid now, it can have 6PB of HDD or up to 600TB of all flash, or some optimal mix in between. Overall, compared to past VNX's, EMC claims it is 4x faster for a bit more money or 1/3 the price for the same performance.

Multicore architectures change the price/performance game, and this puts EMC in position to keep on top of the curve of increasing compute capabilities. When they refresh processors next year, if they get 25% more cores they will get 25% (give or take) more improvement in service delivered (IOPs,etc.). While this isn't a "unique feature" announcement or really a new idea at all, by taking the time and spending the money to redevelop a core asset, EMC has set the bar much higher on the midrange price/performance curve. It will be interesting to see how others in this market respond to this challenge.

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  • Premiered: 09/04/13
  • Author: Mike Matchett
Topic(s): EMC VNX Storage


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