EMC has announced upgrades to its high-end V-Max Symmetrix storage array, including the doubling of external throughput of Fibre Channel connectivity and a capacity reclamation feature that automatically identifies unused portions of volumes and adds them to an available pool of storage.

The Symmetrix V-Max now natively supports 8Gbit/sec Fibre Channel, 8Gbit/sec Ficon, or Fibre Connectivity for mainframes, and 8Gbit/sec data replication between arrays using the Symmetrix Remote Data Facility tool.

EMC claims to be the first to offer a high end storage array with 8Gbit/sec throughput, which is double the standard 4Gbit/sec Fibre Channel throughput, which allows greater scale for bandwidth intensive applications such as large relational databases and virtual servers.

The V-Max also supports the zHPF protocol (a protocol for IBM mainframes) which streamlines the FICON architecture to reduce I/O overhead and improve mainframe performance.

Last week, EMC announced its fully automated storage tiering (FAST) technology across its Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra lines of storage arrays. FAST allows data volumes to be dynamically moved between tiers of storage, depending on business performance requirements, essentially enabling information lifecycle management across different hard disk types inside the arrays.

EMC said the array also rolled out a "zero space reclamation feature." The tool, which uses EMC's Virtual Provisioning software, essentially reclaims unused capacity from virtually provisioned volumes that result after migrating data from standard volumes to thin volumes using migration utilities such as the Symmetrix Migration Package.

Thin provisioning is the automated allocation of storage on a write basis instead of overprovisioning capacity for applications before they need it, as has been traditional in storage administration. The technology allows managers to avoid buying or allocating storage capacity before it's needed.

Earlier this month, Symantec also rolled out a similar capacity reclamation feature as part of its Symantec Storage Foundation management software.

EMC's Zero space reclamation feature recovers data blocks that contain all zeros, which recovers unused capacity that can then be reallocated to new applications.

"This can significantly improve physical capacity utilisation and drive down the total cost of ownership for customers. In addition, virtual provisioning now also can automatically redistribute allocated data blocks as pools are extended with additional capacity, ensuring the optimal benefits of widestriping," EMC stated in a press release.

EMC said its TimeFinder/Clone Software also enables the Symmetrix V-Max to replicate standard data volumes to thinly provisioned volumes, which copy only written tracks, and allows the Zero space reclamation to also reclaim volumes that have been replicated. Conversely, thin volumes can also be replicated to standard volumes.

EMC also announced a lower entry point for the V-Mas with a two-controller and four-controller model versus the previous five- to eight-controller V-Max configurations. The two-controller configuration scales to 1,200 disk drives and the four-controller model scales to 2,400 disk drives.

Brian Gallagher, general manager of EMC's Symmetrix and Virtualisation Product Group, said the enhancements will improve performance, resource utilisation and automation.

"Collectively, the enhancements drive down both acquisition costs and total cost of ownership," he said.