EMC announces new Unity hybrid and AFA storage family

In Dell EMC, Unity by AdministratorLeave a Comment

Recently, EMC® introduced a new family of midmarket storage called EMC Unity™.

New Unity storage

Unity is a fully unified storage system that is available as purpose built all-flash or hybrid-flash, in a software defined virtual storage appliance and (soon) in converged VBLOCk systems. Unity’s purpose built dual active controller architecture deliver unified FC, iSCSI, SMB and NFS storage in 2 rackU’s.

Previously, EMC VNX systems required separate purpose built hardware (Data Movers and Control Stations) to support file storage. Unity supports all-flash storage, the Unity 300F, 400F, 500F and 600F storage systems and hybrid storage with Unity 300, 400, 500 and 600 storage systems. The various models work from a single integrated OS but differ on memory, processing speed, maximum drive counts and raw capacity. For instance, today the Unity 300, 400, 500, & 600 support 150, 250, 350 & 500 maximum drives; 24, 48, 64 and 128 GB memory per storage processor (SP); and 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 and 5.0PB maximum raw capacity, respectively. Unity systems make use of 2.5”, eMLC, TLC and 3D TLC NAND ranging from 400GB to 3.2TB drives. EMC also supports a UnityVSA, software defined storage, which can run on any server that supports VMware ESXi and meets minimum requirements. UnityVSA can use local direct attached storage or another storage system or server SAN. In local attached storage mode, UnityVSA requires hardware RAID controller.

There is an M.2 SSD and Battery Backup Unit per SP for DRAM backup in the event of a SP or power failure. Unity drives are attached via 12Gb/s SAS and can come in 2.5” small form factor with 25 drives in a 2U Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE) or 3.5” large form factor with 12 drives in a 2U DPE. Each Unity SP can support up to two IO modules with six different configurations: 12Gb SAS, 16Gb FC, 10GbE BaseT, 1GbE BaseT, 10GbE Optical (2-port) and 10GbE Optical (4-port). There are two power supplies per DPE. DPEs can connect to two different Disk Array Enclosures (DAEs) that support 25-2.5” or 15-3.5” drives. DPEs and DAEs can be powered by either AC or DC and 2.5” DAE’s are NEBS compliant now, while the 3.5” DAE’s will be NEBS compliant in Q4. I would have to say Unity DPE and SP hardware packaging is pretty impressive.

No performance benchmarks have been released, but EMC states that Unity is 3X faster than VNX, up to 300K IOPS. All-Flash pricing starts under $18K (estimated street price) and the Hybrid pricing starts at under $10k (estimated street price).

Unity software services

One big Unity GTM improvement is that Unity systems come standard with all-inclusive base software at no additional cost (this includes all array based software plus additional RecoverPoint basic, RecoverPoint for VMs and a 180 day free VPLEX migration license).  Physical storage is assigned to pools with RAID. Unity hybrid systems can support FAST Cache and Fast® VP with up to 3 tiers of storage: extreme performance (flash); performance (SAS); and capacity (NL-SAS). Storage management can be performed in Unisphere (HTML5 web-based GUI), Unisphere CLI (executed on a Windows host) or via REST API. Unity also supports Host IO limits for LUNs or datastores to help manage noisy neighbors. Unity supports SAS hardware based Data at Rest Encryption (D@RE). Unity LUNs are carved out of storage pools. A Connection Utility (wizard) boots up when you first install Unity that provides for easy setup of Unisphere and automatically discovers other Unity storage systems available in the environment.

Unity File System is a 64-bit file system that offers ~10M files per directory, ~100M sub-directories per directory and up to ~32B files in a 64TB file system. Unity File System utilizes virtual NAS servers on Unity SPs using virtual interfaces to connect to hosts and storage and supports automatic failover in the event of a SP failure. Virtual NAS servers can support SMB file systems, NFS file systems or multi-protocol file systems. File systems can be expanded or shrunk in size and allocated space is automatically consumed or reclaimed based on file system usage.

VMware VMFS Datastores in Unity are block storage objects. VMware NFS datastores can make use of Unity NFS NAS servers. Unity also supports VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) over a block or file Protocol Endpoints (PE). The block PE can use of iSCSI or FC. Unity also supports VAAI, VASA2, SRM and has a VMware aware Unisphere Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI). Unity also supports EMC Storage Integrator (ESI) for Microsoft provisioning and Hyper-V Offloaded data transfer (ODX) and Offload copy for File.

Snapshots can be taken on Unity LUNs as well as file systems and NFS datastores. Unity snapshot use redirect on write technology to implement space efficient snapshots. Snapshots can be attached (block) or mounted (file) for read write access. Snapshots can also be scheduled. Unity storage can be either asynchronously (file and block) or synchronously (today, block only) replicated to other Unity storage. Unity supports LUN consistency groups for replication.


With Unity, EMC has taken a big step in their midmarket storage. Unified file and block was much more complex under VNX and is drastically simplified under Unity.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in May of 2016.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. Also we have recently updated (May 2019) our SAN Storage Buying Guide so if you are interested in purchasing block or primary storage, please checkout our Buying Guide available for sale on our website. ]  

Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & System consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.