Follower turns leader in server-related innovation

Updated 2017-10-19 09:33:03 China Daily

China will outpace the world in making servers to power artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and big data applications as these cutting-edge technologies are widely seen as the next frontier of innovation, according to a renowned server expert.

"After years of development, China has leapt from a follower into one of the leaders of innovation in server-related technologies," Wang Endong, the chief scientist at Inspur Group, one of China's largest server makers, told reporters on the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.[Special coverage]

Servers are the "engines" to drive the flow of data in various industries. They run core business systems of finance, telecom, electricity, energy transmission and other industries that are directly related to people's livelihood.

According to Wang, three of the top five global server makers are from China. The country is also playing an important part in setting worldwide industry standards.

"We have outpaced many countries in server patent applications, which will offer a strong momentum to growth," said Wang, who is also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

For a long time, China heavily relied on imports to meet the domestic demand for high-end fault-tolerant servers, which allow systems to continue running when part of the system fails, thereby avoiding loss of data. At the time, the market was dominated by IBM, HP, Fujitsu and other foreign technology providers.

The situation persisted until 2013, when Wang and his more than 400 colleagues successfully developed China's first proprietary 32-way high-end fault-tolerant server-the Tiansuo K1.

Wang compared the development of Inspur Tiansuo K1 with climbing the world's second highest peak, Mount K2.

"When we started to develop the high-end fault-tolerant server, we named it K2 to remind every researcher of the extreme difficulties we could encounter," Wang said, adding the name was changed to K1 only after the team succeeded.

Earlier this year, Inspur launched a tailor-made server platform for AI, which demands huge amounts of data computing and processing. This is the latest product of Wang and his team.

In the second quarter of 2017, Inspur shipped 158,000 units of servers globally, making it the world's fourth largest server maker, data from the market research company Gartner Inc show.

Fu Liang, an independent IT expert, said the technology gap between Chinese server makers and their western counterparts has been narrowed rapidly, with local players even leading the world in some respects.

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