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EMC boosts high-end storage system

New system will store a petabyte of data--enough space for 250 million digital songs, company says.

EMC on Monday took the wraps off plans for new storage systems with nearly quadruple the capacity of its most advanced systems.

The new product, called Symmetrix DMX-3, can store up to 288 terabytes of data on 960 disk drives, up from the 560-disk-drive-maximum of the company's previously most powerful systems. By the end of next year, customers will be able to store up to 1 petabyte of data on more than 2,000 disk drives on a single system, the company said.

A petabyte is equal to a little more than 1,000 terabytes and is enough space to store 250 million digital music files or 2 trillion telephone transaction records, said Tom Joyce, vice president of storage platforms marketing at EMC.

The new product, scheduled to ship in September, is designed for companies with the largest storage requirements in the world, such as banks, phone companies and airline reservation systems, Joyce said. Such businesses can use the Symmetrix DMX-3 system to replace multiple storage systems and save money, he said.

"It's a response to cost pressure on these companies," Joyce said. "The bar is higher, and budgets are not."

The average EMC customer grows the data it accumulates for storage each year by 60 percent, the company said. Joyce attributes the mounting data stockpile to government regulations, namely the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the United States, which require companies to retain more records. Another factor is the falling price of disk storage and the advent of low-cost fiber channel disk drives, which will give companies the means to store and sort more data than ever.

EMC plans to incorporate fiber channel disk drives into the Symmetrix system. The product also sports twice as many computing processors as the previous generation and faster input-output connections, Joyce said.

EMC's DMX-3 products, including Symmetrix, start at $250,000. For the most advanced features and capacity, customers can expect to pay millions of dollars.

The company is also readying several new software programs. Each is designed to ease the task of migrating data from one storage system to another. The EMC Open Migrator/LM program, available this month, promises to migrate data from one storage machine to another with minimal disruption and works with machines made by major rivals, including IBM and Hitachi, the company said.

The Logical Data Migration Facility program, jointly developed and sold with Softek Storage Solutions, is designed specifically for migrating data from a mainframe computer to an EMC DMX-3 system. That program is available in September. EMC did not disclose pricing for either program.