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By Shane Goddard

If you’re looking to move from your existing ISIS storage to Avid NEXIS, or thinking about implementing Avid NEXIS for your next production, the number of options can be a little intimidating.

So, which NEXIS does your company need?
In this article, I’ll attempt to explain the main components of the NEXIS storage system, to help you understand which NEXIS is right for you.

The NEXIS Engine Family

Media Drives 40 TB of storage capacity with a single Media Pack per engine (offering up to 600 MB/s of bandwidth) One Media Pack of 10 HDD drives (2 TB, 6 TB, or 10 TB, offering up to 600 MB/s of bandwidth), for a total storage capacity of 20 TB–100 TB maximum per engine One SSD Media Pack (9.6 TB or 19.2 TB, offering up to 3 GB/s of bandwidth) Up to two Media Packs of 10 drives (2 TB, 6 TB, or 10 TB) each for a total storage capacity of 20 TB–200 TB maximum per engine, with up to 1.2 GB/s of bandwidth Up to eight Media Packs of 10 drives (2 TB, 6 TB, or 10 TB) each for a total storage capacity of 80 TB–800 TB maximum per engine, with up to 3.2 GB/s of bandwidth Four to eight Media Packs of 10 drives (12 TB each) for a total storage capacity of 960 TB and 1 GB/s of bandwidth per engine
Network Interface 10GbE SFP+ 10GbE SFP+ 40GbE QSFP 10GbE SFP+ 40GbE QSFP 10GbE SFP+
System Director Embedded Embedded, or SDA for large systems Embedded, or SDA for large systems Embedded, or SDA for large systems Requires an SDA Requires an SDA
# of Clients 24 Active 40 Active / up to 330 with SDA 40 Active / up to 330 with SDA 40 Active / up to 330 with SDA 330 Active More than 100 Active
Rack Size 2RU 2RU 2RU 4RU 5RU 5RU

What makes Up a NEXIS System

Avid Nexis Blog

Essentially, each NEXIS storage system consists of 3 core components:

System Director

The System Director is the brains of the system, it directs all data flow into and out of the storage, controlling where the data is stored. The System Director can either be embedded into a NEXIS Engine (PRO, E2 and E4) or be a stand-alone SDA (System Director Appliance).

A stand-alone SDA only becomes a requirement when:
- Utilising an NEXIS|E5 Engine
- Needing 5+ Media Packs (50 Drives)                      
- Needing 40+ Active Clients
- Mirror Media Protection


As well as possibly hosting the embedded System Director, each additional Avid NEXIS Engine adds storage capacity and bandwidth to the Avid NEXIS system.

The NEXIS storage system is built around groups of 10 drives called Media Packs.
Media Packs are available in 20TB, 60TB, 100TB capacities.
The PRO is only available in 40TB, but you can connect up to 4 PROs for a total of 160TB
The E5 NL (Nearline) only uses 120TB Media Packs.
With a typical workflow of 80% read and 20% write, each Media Pack can deliver the following performance, depending on the level of protection.

Two Disk Protection:              384 MB/s        80% usable space (Effectively RAID 6)
One Disk Protection:             392 MB/s        89% usable space (Effectively RAID 5)
No Protection:                         400 MB/s        100% usable space

Uniquely, Avid NEXIS allows protection to be set per workspace, allowing for mixing protection levels for workspaces on the same system.

Avid Nexis Blog


Connects the various NEXIS components together. Each NEXIS Engine needs a 10GbE connection into the switch, or 40GbE in the case of the E5 and the E2 SSD).
Qualified models include Dell, Cisco & Netgear.

What if you need to expand in the future?


Simply buy another NEXIS|PRO (Up to a maximum of 4) connect it to a free 10G SFP+ port on your existing NEXIS switch, configure, and the new storage is available and ready to add to your existing workspaces or create new ones.

NEXIS|E2 or E4

Simply buy another NEXIS|E2 or E4 (Up to a maximum of 4 Media Packs of 10 drives before needing a separate SDA) connect it to a free 10G SFP+ port on your existing Nexis switch, configure, and again the extra storage is available right there. Ready to expand your existing workspaces or create new ones. Adding to the NEXIS’ flexibility, you can also mix the E2 and E4 Engines together.

A recent discussion raised the following question:

The capacity and bandwidth of two AVID NEXIS E2s are identical to a single E4 when using the same size Media Pack...

So, given the choice, should we recommend our customers buy one Avid NEXIS | E4 or two Avid NEXIS | E2s?

The correct answer is...it depends!

The differences:
NEXIS | E4 engines require less networking due to only having the one 10GbE connection, while the two NEXIS E2s each have an 10GbE connection and provide flexibility in that they could be redeployed to two different sites in the future if needed.
So the E4 only needing one spare 10Gb port in your switch, might be preferable to keep port count down.


The E5 has many expansion options and can have up to 48 Media Packs of 10 drives.
These can be added via additional E2, E4 or E5 engines, or if you have spare chassis capacity, added to your existing E5.

Dead drive?! It happens!

The Avid NEXIS is “Media Aware” meaning that in the event of a failed drive being replaced, only the actual media on the drives will be rebuild, reducing rebuild times.

Hot Spare drives are included in with E5 engines and optional in E4 Engines.

The NEXIS|PRO and E2 Engines don’t have a provision for a hot spare.
So, to minimise production downtime (and for peace of mind!) we strongly encourage keeping a cold spare drive on the shelf for these units.

And on that note, all NEXIS drives and power supplies are hot-swappable, removing the need for downtime in the event of hardware failure.

I’ve really only covered the basic options here, and other features of the NEXIS include Engine Protection (mirroring), mirroring of workspaces, redundant controllers, redundant networking and redundant System Director Appliances.

If you have any other questions about the personalising a NEXIS system that would be right for your production or agency, contact your Digistor account manager or Digistor sales.