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EMC's Clariion CX600 comes with a few surprises

EMC's Clariion CX600 comes with a few surprises

EMC announced a new model in the Clariion family with companion software changes. The new model, the CX600, represents the first in a family of new Clariion product offerings that will replace the existing products.

EMC has continued the Clariion product line with the announcement of the CX600, which is to be the first of a series of new products. The CX600 effectively replaces the flagship Clariion product, the FC4700. Along with the CX600 announcement, EMC has announced a new version of the PowerPath software that supports alternate pathing and load balancing for the Clariion product family as well as the original Symmetrix support. The MirrorView software was also enhanced to allow remote copy support over IP networks.

The new CX600 represents a change to the architecture over the previous versions of Clariion. The changes include:

  • Switch to Intel-based processors from PowerPC
  • New packaging with greater drive density
  • Improved performance in both IOPs and bandwidth

Even though CX600 has new hardware and packaging, the same software functionality as in the prior Clariion versions is supported.

Evaluator Group comments:

The use of original code base and the support of the same software feature sets, which include host-based software, greatly reduces the risk with the introduction of a new product. The support should allow a seamless transition for existing Clariion customers.

CX600 characteristics

EMC has released the characteristics of the CX600 along with performance information. The performance information comes from EMC and not through the Storage Performance Council. Some of the notable characteristics are:

  • Four Intel 2 GHz processors are used in the dual controller system
  • Cache memory can be either 4 or 8 GB)
  • 4 back end Fibre Channel ports supporting two loop (2 Gb Fibre Channel)
  • 15 disk drives in a package with a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 240 per system
  • Use of currently available 2Gb Fibre Channel disk drives
  • 1,024 LUNs are available
  • Up to 128 hosts may be attached by either point-to-point or Fibre Channel
  • RAID 0, 1, 10, 3, and 5 are supported and may be intermixed
  • 10 operating systems are supported initially including Windows NT/2000, Solaris, NetWare, Linux, AIX, Tru64, and IRIX
  • Battery hold up until cache contents are de-staged

The performance information for the CX600 is based on EMC internal testing.

  • Maximum IOPS – 150,000
  • Maximum Bandwidth – 1,300 MB/s

The existing software for the Clariion line will be continued on for the CX600 with the exception of the ATF (Automatic Transparent Failover) software which will be replaced by the addition of Clariion support to the PowerPath software.

  • EMC ControlCenter Navisphere – centralized, web-based management software for multiple Clariion devices (of any type)
  • EMC SnapView – point-in-time copy
  • EMC MirrorView – remote copy over Fibre Channel and IP networks
  • EMC Access Logix – LUN masking at the subsystem level
  • EMC ESN Manager – storage network management
  • EMC PowerPath – load balancing and failover software supported on multiple operating systems for both Clariion and Symmetrix
  • ECC Database Tuner for Oracle – interface software for Oracle databases to control data placement
  • ECC StorageScope – storage resource management
  • ECC Resource Availability – business continuity management

Evaluator Group comments:

The EMC announcement of the new Clariion model CX600 provides a significant improvement over the FC4700 model (2.4X overall capacity with 50% greater drive density). Performance and price were both addressed with the CX600 which were important in continuing to be competitive (3X performance with twice the connectivity). Despite the fundamental architectural changes, EMC has continued with the existing software support such that customers can utilize the same software from prior Clariion versions. In addition, EMC has added another commonality of software element between Clariion and Symmetrix with the release of support in PowerPath. The new product with these capabilities provides a formidable competitor for EMC's partners.

An element of this release, which may be somewhat overlooked, is the new packaging for the Clariion. The packaging allows for improved capacity density but also changes the overall look. The earlier design had become very common over time. The new design provides a fresh look and will match the Dell product line (Dell servers) much better than the old Clariion look. There may have been several motivations for the design refresh.

The Clariion architecture change was surprising in that the existing design had not been a limiting factor for performance improvements or cost reductions and was not that "old" in the sense of how long storage system designs last. A new design usually suffers from a period of instability as new environments are encountered in the field and code fixes have to be provided. EMC has been very pragmatic about continuing a product architecture as long as possible so as not to introduce instability. EMC also made the surprising statement that they expect this design to last three years that is an incredibly short time. We expect it to be more like five to six with iterative refinements. Additionally, future versions and variations were discussed which will be analyzed by Evaluator Group when EMC announces them.

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