EMC said the new arrays will also support Fibre Channel connections for IBM mainframes. Coincidentally IBM is due to begin shipping a Fibre Channel link in September that will directly connect its mainframes to the same storage-area networks (SANs) used by Unix and Windows servers.
The new Symmetrix models - the 8830, 8530 and 8230 - are aimed at what EMC described as "hyper-consolidation" uses, in which islands of direct-attached storage are combined within a single RAID device. The top-of-the-line 8830 can hold up to 69.5Tbytes of data and support as many as 80 PowerPC processors, the company said.
The new arrays offer a 22% reduction in total cost of ownership through simplified management and increased storage capacity in smaller footprints. But EMC would not disclose prices, other than to say they start at about $100,000 (£68,210) and can range up to several million dollars depending on capacity, connectivity and other features.
In an attempt to entice users to purchase the new devices, EMC will also offer to buy back storage equipment made by rival vendors. The company has been hit hard by the deceleration in IT spending caused by the slowing economy, suffering two straight quarters of lower-than-expected sales.
But when economic conditions improve, said Joseph Tucci, EMC's president and chief executive officer, "there will be a significant backlog in data storage needs". To try to minimise the backlog, he added, EMC "will buy back some of these isolated islands and sell you a Symmetrix system in return".
John Webster, an analyst at market research firm Illuminata, said one of the most significant features of the new Symmetrix arrays is their ability to partition data storage caches into 16 distinct parallel channels.
The three arrays are all available immediately. EMC also announced a new version of its Enginuity operating software and a series of mainframe-related functionality additions, including the native Fibre Channel connection between the Symmetrix devices and IBM's mainframes.
Tucci said that within the next two months, EMC plans to make new product announcements concerning its midrange Clariion disk arrays and detail new software related to automated storage management.
Meanwhile, rival Hitachi Data Systems last week announced plans for the October release of a 2gbps Fibre Channel link for its high-end Lightning 9900 disk arrays, and the addition of native mainframe Fibre Channel support early next year.