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EMC DMX 3 Architecture

Today we will discuss about DMX 3 architecture in detail. The DMX-3 fully leverages the
EMC industry-leading storage.The Symmetrix DMX-3 is incrementally scalable, supporting
from 96 to 1,920 2 Gb/s high-performance Fibre Channel disk drives, providing a maximum
raw capacity of approximately 1 PB.(In special setup we can configure maximum 2400 disks
in DMX 3 models).

As the name indicates, DMX works on a direct matrix architecture. That means there will be
direct connect connectivity between the front end directors, global memory and backend
directors. Direct Matrix Architecture (DMX) supports up to 128 point-to-point serial
connections within the DMX system. In the Direct Matrix Architecture, contention is
minimized because control information and commands are transferred across a separate and
dedicated message matrix. The major components of Symmetrix DMX architecture are the
front-end channel directors (and their interface adapters), global memory directors, and backend disk directors (and their interface adapters). The matrix midplane provides configuration
flexibility through the slot configuration. Each director slot port is hard-wired point-to-point
to one port on each global memory director board. We will check each parts in detail in the
later part of this post.

DMX 3 Block Diagram

In a fully configured Symmetrix DMX-3, each of the eight director ports on the sixteen
directors connects to one of the 16 memory ports on each of the eight global memory
directors. These 128 individual point-to-point connections facilitate up to 128 concurrent
global memory operations in the system. Below picture illustrates the point-to-point
architecture and the interconnection of the major components of the Symmetrix DMX-3

The Symmetrix DMX-3 is composed of a system bay and one to eight storage bays.

Symmetrix DMX-3 system bay:

Below picture will give an idea about DMX 3s system bay components. It is showing the
front and rear view of system bay

Cooling fan modules:

Three 3-fan modules maintain air circulation and cool the unit internally.
Card cage and midplane:
The midplane acts as the backborn of DMX 3. This is the hardware which will interconnect
the directors with its corresponding adapters.It has front end and backend slots.The front 24
slots contain global memory directors, disk directors, and channel directors (front-end Fibre
Channel, ESCON, FICON, and iSCSI channel directors a, or GigE Remote directors). The
rear slots contain the channel host adapters, GigE Remote adapters, disk adapters, and the
Communications and Environmental Control Modules (XCMs).
Below figure will give idea about front end midplane slot configuration.

On the rear side of the midplane as shown below, the adapters reside behind their respective
directors, and two slots behind the memory are reserved for the XCM pair.

Front-end Modules:
The front end modules consist of Channel directors/adapters which will give access to hosts
to the storage system and remote director adapters which are used for remote
replications(SRDF).Up to 12 channel directors connect to the front side of the midplane and
the adapters to the rear side of the midplane in the system cabinet.

Back-End Modules:
Backend modules consists of disk directors and adapters.Two, four, six or eight disk directors
connect to the midplane in the front of the cabinet. Each disk directors adapter provides the
interface to the Fibre Channel disk drives. The adapter connects to the opposite side of the
midplane in the rear of the cabinet.
Global memory directors:
The Symmetrix DMX-3 global memory director technology is one of the most crucial
components of a Symmetrix system. The DMX-3 uses global memory directors that use
industry-standard Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DDR
SDRAM), the latest generation of DDR SDRAM chip technology. All read and write
operations transfer data to or from global memory. Any transfers between the host processor,
channel directors, and global memory directors are achieved at much greater electronic
speeds than transfers involving disks.
Two, four, six, or eight global memory directors provide up to 512 GB (256 GB effective)
total global memory, available in 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB global memory director
capacities.The DMX-3 global memory directors work in pairs. The hardware writes to the
primary global memory director first, and then automatically writes data to the secondary
global memory director. All reads are from the primary memory director. Upon a primary or
secondary global memory director failure, all directors drop the failed global memory
director and switch to a nondual write mode. Striping between global memory directors is

Each global memory director has 16 ports with point-to-point serial connections between the
global memory director and channel or disk directors (16 directors) through the direct matrix.
Each memory director port consists of a pair of full-duplex serial linkstwo serial links out
(TX) and two serial links in (RX). Each of the eight director ports on the 16 directors connect
to one of the 16 memory ports on each of the eight global memory directors (as shown in
below picture). These 128 individual point-to-point connections facilitate up to 128
concurrent cache operations in the system.

Communications and environmental control module (XCM):

In older DMX models, we were using two different hardware for communication
(Communication Control Module CCM) and for environmental monitoring
(Environmental Control Module ECM). In DMX3 these two hardware functions are
combined together and made a single hardware called XCM. Two communication module
and environmental control modules (XCMs) connect to the midplane in the rear card
cage.The XCMs primary function is to act as a communications agent between the service
processor (KVM and server) and the embedded processing nodes within the system.It
has Ethernet interface between the directors (channel, disk, and memory) and the service
The XCM monitors and logs environmental events across all critical components and reports
any operational problems. Critical components include channel and disk directors, global
memory directors, power supplies, power line input modules, fans, and various on/off
switches. The XCM environmental control is capable of monitoring each components local
voltages ensuring optimum power delivery. Temperature of directors and memory are also
continuously monitored. The AC power main is checked for:





Specific notification of overvoltage condition




It also has connectors for paths between the XCM and the BBU modules (in the system bay
and the storage bays) for sending commands and receiving status.
Power supplies:
The system bay contains up to eight power supplies that are split into two power zones
Power Zone A and Power Zone B, consisting of up to four power supplies each. One zone can
maintain power for the entire system bay independent of the power supplies in the other zone.
The DMX-3 is available in three-phase Delta or three-phase WYE configurations.
Power distribution panel (PDP), power distribution unit (PDU), and AC connectors:
Two PDPs, one for each zone, provide a centralized cabinet interface and distribution control
of the AC power input lines when connected to the system bay PDUs. The PDPs contain the
manual On/Off power switches, which are accessible through the rear door. The PDUs, one
for each power zone, provide the main interface between the input AC from the PDPs and the
various components contained within the system bay.
Battery backup unit (BBU) assembly consisting of two BBU modules:
Up to eight BBU modules provide backup for each of the power supplies. If AC power fails,
the BBU modules can maintain power for two 5-minute periods of AC loss while the
Symmetrix system shuts down.

Service processor (keyboard, video display, and mouse KVM), server, and
uninterruptible ower supply (UPS):
The service processor consists of a KVM and a server that connects to the Symmetrix
subsystem through an Ethernet interface. The service processor uses an external modem for
communicating with the EMC Customer Support Center when the Symmetrix system detects
an error condition. The service processor automatically dials the Customer Support Center
whenever the Symmetrix system detects a component failure or environmental violation. An
EMC Product Support Engineer at the Customer Support Center can also run diagnostics
remotely through the service processor to determine the source of a problem and
potentially resolve it before the problem becomes criticalThe service processor is used to
download the Symmetrix system configuration to the directors and provides diagnostic and
maintenance utilities for the Symmetrix system. The server battery backup is provided by a

Storage bays hardware Components:

Below picture will give an idea about Storage bay

Drive enclosures:
The Symmetrix DMX-3 storage bay is configured with capacities of 120 or 240 disk drives.
Each drive


From 4 to 15 Fibre Channel disk drives per drive enclosure
The storage bays can be populated with any combination of DMX disk drives (73 GB, 146
GB, and 300 GB 10,000 rpm drives; 73 GB, 146 GB, and 300 GB 15,000 rpm drives; and
500 GB 7,200 rpm drives) Some configuration restrictions may apply.
Battery backup unit (BBU) modules:
Two BBU modules are required for four drive enclosures (up to eight BBU modules support
up to 16 drive enclosures in one storage bay). The BBU modules provide backup power to
the drive enclosures.
Power distribution panel (PDP),Power distribution unit (PDU),and AC connectors:
Two PDPs, one for each zone, provide a centralized cabinet interface and distribution control
of the AC power input lines when connected to the storage bay PDUs. The PDPs contain the
manual On/Off power switches, which are accessible through the rear door. The PDUs, one
for each power zone, provide the main interface between the input AC from the PDPs and the
BBU modules to the drive enclosures contained within the storage bay.
Hope this was helpful for you. I will be publishing a post about DMX 4 in future.keep
visiting EMC SAN Info.If you have any doubts,questions,do comment below or use our Ask
Question section.

Difference between EMC DMX 3 and DMX

EMC DMX 3 and DMX 4 are EMCs two well-known EMC SAN storage products. DMX 4
is the last model in direct matrix architecture series, after that EMC introduced their virtual
matrix interface model EMC Vmax. Today we will discuss about the basic difference
between EMC DMX 3 and DMX 4.Almost all the features are same in both DMX 3 and
DMX 4 models. We can say like DMX4 is the version two of DMX3.So lets check the basic
difference between EMC DMX 3 and DMX 4
There are 2 major differences between these models.
In DMX 3 the drives are connected to the Link Control Card(LCC) through a traditional
arbitrated loop where as in DMX 4 models,drives to LCC connection is point to point.
In DMX 3 maximum backend channel speed is 2Gb/s and same in DMX 4 is 4Gb/s

Traditional arbitrated loop v/s point to point loop:

Below picture shows the traditional loop concept.

Here all the drives are connected to the LCC through a traditional arbitrated loop. If you want
to write any data to the drive 4,the data has to pass through the drives 1,2 and 3 from LCC.
Due to loop functionality, signal integrity and protocol issue at a drive will propagate to
other drives in the loop.
Below picture shows the point to point connectivity

In DMX 4 models, we have CTS ( Cut Through Switch ) point to point connections between
LCC and drives. Like normal traditional loop in DMX 3, data does not have to pass through
all its preceding drives to reach destination. This point to point connection help us to detect
and isolate a faulty component like Drives,Cables,LCC very easily.
This cut through switch connectivity enables port monitoring capability to each drive port,
allowing for better fault detection and isolation. Performance increases since the data does
not have to be passed through every drive in the loop. Point-to-point connections between
LCC and drives gives DMX 4 models a significant gain in signal integrity compared with
DMX 3 disk enclosures. As can be seen in above picture, the physical layout of LCCs provide
shorter connections to each drive.

Backend drive loop Speed:

As I told earlier other difference between DMX 3 and DMX 4 is the backend drive loop
speed. The maximum backend speed in DMX 3 is 2Gb/s and in DMX 4,it is 4Gb/S. DMX 4
can work on 2Gb/s as well.

Comparison between EMC DMX 3 and DMX 4

Open systems/mainframe
CPU Processors
Memory Directors
Maximum Global Memory
Fibre Channel Back-end
Maximum Back-end Channel
Disk adapters
Disk Ports
Number of disks
Maximum raw capacity (TB)

Usable Connectivity Ports

Symmetrix DMX-3
Open systems and Mainframe
1.3 GHz PowerPC
512 GB (256 GB effective)
Traditional Loop

Symmetrix DMX-4
Open systems and Mainframe
1.3 GHz PowerPC
512 GB (256 GB effective)



1, 2, 3, or 4 DA pairs
1, 2, 3, or 4 DA pairs
2-64x Fibre Channel host/SAN 2-64x Fibre Channel
host/SAN ports
2-8x Fibre Channel remote
2-8x Fibre Channel remote
replication ports
2-48x iSCSI ports
2-48x iSCSI ports
2-48x FICON host ports
2-48xFICON host ports
2-8x GigE remote replication 2-8x GigE remote replication
2-64x ESCON host ports
2-64x ESCON host ports
2-8x ESCON remote
2-8x ESCON remote
replication ports
replication ports