Three Cheers for Flash! VMAX Gets a Lift with FlashBoost

We repeatedly hear from our customers that their mission critical workloads require availability AND performance. To help customers realize even more performance for their mission critical workloads, EMC is announcing VMAX FlashBoost software. This latest flash innovation from EMC improves VMAX performance by up to 75% and allows customers to run more latency-sensitive workloads inside a hybrid array. All while taking advantage of VMAX’s comprehensive availability, reliability, and disaster proof replication.

A traditional cached disk array reads data from disk, stores it in cache, and then serves it to the host, mitigating the poor performance of mechanical disk drives with randomly read data. Flash drives excel in random read workloads. With no mechanical movement and virtually no latency, it is better to stay out of the way of a flash drive. VMAX with FlashBoost software does exactly that. Now, when data is stored on a flash drive, non-cached reads are served directly from the drive, significantly improving throughput for read-intensive workloads.

FlashBoost Graph

Since we introduced flash in 2008, customers have found that with storage tiering they can cost effectively add flash for just active or “hot” data, while significantly increasing IOPS and reducing read latency for all workloads. With the right amount of flash (sometimes as little as 2-5%) combined with granular and continuous auto-tiering, up to 90% of all the I/O for most workloads will be serviced from this small percentage of SSD. This allows customers the performance benefits of flash technology without incurring the costs associated with all-flash arrays.

However, there are some workloads, such as some mission-critical databases, that need all of the I/O to come from SSD no matter how cold the data. We are seeing our customers segment these latency-intolerant workloads entirely on flash pools within their hybrid arrays to get the performance benefits of an all- flash configuration while also benefiting from the advanced VMAX data services such as replication, encryption and data protection.

Not only does FlashBoost software provide an immediate performance improvement to these flash pools as well as flash tiers, it also offers longer-term benefits by proactively caching data in the background for even bigger performance benefits the second time it is accessed.


In addition to software improvements to optimize flash access, we are also making it more accessible. Now, customers can add preconfigured bundles of flash drives, software, and associated infrastructure and maintenance to a new or existing EMC array at significant cost savings. And, new 800GB flash drives allow customers to build larger and denser flash configurations.

FlashBoost is available at no charge to existing and new VMAX customers and is non-disruptively enabled on VMAX systems running the Enginuity 5876 operating environment.  For more information and Q&A opportunities see the VMAX community. (

About the Author: Fidelma Russo