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Inspur's K1 marks China's high-end server debut

Itanium box has grunt to spare, little application support

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Little-known Chinese vendor Inspur has finally unveiled what it claims is the country’s first fully home-grown, high-end server.

The Inspur Tiansuo K1, which was actually showcased at IDF Beijing last year, has taken four years and 750 million yuan (£76m) to develop, according to Xinhua.

Its development was part of the “863 Program” – a government initiative designed to break the dominance of foreign technology vendors in China by creating viable domestic alternatives, such as its Loongson processors.

The K1 can therefore be understood as a declaration of growing independence in the fields of “system structure, system bus agreement design, core chip unit design, hardware design, structure and heat dissipation design, system BIOS design, fault tolerant system core and development and transplanting of application systems”, according to Inspur.

The fault-tolerant, Itanium-based high performance server offers 32 quad core, dual thread Itanium processors (9300 series) and up to 2TB of memory.

For the full list of specs it is listed online for sale on the English-language version of Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba.com, although pricing is not included.

The server is likely to be aimed at the usual enterprise markets, with financial services giant China Construction Bank already named as an early customer.

Inspur is hoping to tap a Chinese market potentially worth 15.2bn yuan (£1.5bn) annually, according to Xinhua.

The local media is hyping up Inspur's chances of disrupting the market, claiming that high-end servers sold by Western companies are over twice as expensive in China as the US.

IDC disputes that claim.

Associate VP, Rajnish Arora, told The Reg that IBM and HP kit typically sells at 40-50 per cent lower in China than in more mature markets.

He added that the Linux OS supported by the K1 may also make it tough to win new sales.

"Currently, there are very few mission-critical applications used for running vertical specific workloads such as core-banking systems or telecom BSS infrastructure available on the Linux platform," he argued. ®

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