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Does EMC's DMX Measure Up?

Last June, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) president and CEO Joe Tucci -- referring to the next-generation Symmetrix line -- promised that the company would return to its heritage of delivering "the fastest, baddest, meanest, biggest boxes on the planet" (see EMC Flashes Wall Street).

With the Symmetrix DMX, launched earlier this week, EMC believes it has reclaimed the pole position in the high-end enterprise storage. "There's nothing out there that's as fast as this," said Tucci in an interview with Byte and Switch on Monday (see EMC Soups Up Symm and our full Q&A with Tucci).

But has EMC really reclaimed the hardware mantle? Most industry observers and analysts agree the Symmetrix DMX family represents a major advance in performance, provides more flexible deployment options, and cuts costs by sharing common components with the midrange Clariion line. [Ed. note: Not to mention the fact that it makes the old Symmetrix 5.5 look even more like a rusty relic.] But DMX doesn't win hands-down across the board.

Let's take a point-by-point look at whether the Symmetrix 6 really is the fastest, meanest (which we'll take to mean pricing), and biggest storage system in the industry.

Fastest: On this, it appears EMC has made the biggest leap forward and has the most credible claims of thrashing its competitors. The centerpiece of the Symmetrix 6 kickoff was the DMX, the Direct Matrix Architecture, a point-to-point, non-blocking technology that EMC says can provide internal bandwidth of up to 64 GByte/s. That's 40 times faster than the PCI bus-based Symm 5.5 (rated at 1.6 GByte/s), and four times faster than the Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Lightning 9980V, the previous performance leader in the space at 16 GByte/s total internal bandwidth.

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