At STH we cover every major server manufacturer. Inspur is now the third largest server vendor in the world and so we traveled to Shanghai, China to attend the Inspur Partner Forum 2019, or IPF 2019. We are going to have more from the trip over the next few days and weeks, but we wanted to give our recap of the IPF 2019 event itself.
Inspur Growth at IPF 2019
Inspur is proud that it is the #3 largest server vendor in the world and has a clear goal of continued rapid growth. If you contrast that to HPE’s recent strategy of shrinking from the volume market and focusing on high-end solutions, Inspur is moving in the other direction. While the industry is growing at 34.5% per year, Inspur is growing 84.4% per year which has given it the #3 worldwide share position and solidified it as the top server vendor in China with 31% market share. Not on this slide, but Inspur also showed it has 51.4% market share in China’s AI market which dwarfs other competitors.
Focusing on just the Chinese market, where Inspur is now #1, it has leapfrogged companies like Lenovo and Huawei. This is because Inspur has been willing to prioritize operational and delivery excellence to target the cloud service provider market, which is traditionally lower margin than companies like Huawei would target. At STH, we are going to have more around Inspur’s JDM model and how Inspur is delivering its quality program soon. For some perspective, we are told the 30-day RMA rate on Inspur servers is under 0.3%, significantly lower than what we hear from some other vendors.
One of the most interesting slides during the company’s first keynote was this one. The three parts essentially line up a point of view. The left chart shows the number of servers consumed by a country and the country’s GDP. In that chart’s top right are the US and China. Inspur positions the notion that there is a correlation between the two and that buying more servers yields more economic prosperity. The middle chart is showing that Internet commerce has grown by 30x from 2009 to 2018, traditional retail sales have only grown by 2.4x. On the right side, it is showing that from 2009 to 2019 the change in the most valuable companies has shifted to mostly Internet and technology-related companies.
Inspur Launches its G5 NVMe SSD
At Inspur IPF 2019, the company launched a new NVMe SSD. After the on-stage announcement, we were able to ask about the new SSDs. They are based on a Microchip (previously Microsemi) controller and utilize 64-layer and later this year 96-layer eTLC NAND.
Key specs are:
- NVMe 1.3
- There will be both standard and high-performance versions
- U.2 2.5″ form factors with single port and dual port versions for HA applications
- Capacities of 2TB, 4TB, 8TB, 16TB, and 32TB
- 64-layer and later 96-layer 3D eTLC NAND
- We did not get endurance, but Inspur is saying 40% better endurance due to an algorithm change
- Modular and flexible hardware/ firmware models
- 3.5GB/s / 3.3GB/s sequential and 830K/ 320K IOPS
- Full load 12W operation and idle 4W
- Multiple firmware backups for data safety
- End-to-end data protection
Beyond the specs, Inspur’s new NVMe SSD will have broader implications. Large vendors like Dell EMC, HPE, and Lenovo typically have relied upon partners such as Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, and Western Digital to deliver their SSDs. With Inspur’s move to the NVMe market, it is signaling its desire to move further into vertical integration. We were told this is to both help its customers cost optimize solutions but also to enable some unique operating characteristics that its cloud service provider companies need.
Inspur Storage Solutions at IPF 2019
Beyond the new self-developed NVMe SSD, Inspur had more storage solutions than I thought the company had at the show. We saw traditional solutions like the Simply Huge 106x 3.5in Hard Drive Inspur NF5486M5 but also smaller building blocks like the 2U 24x 3.5″ bay NF5266M5 storage server.
Previously, I had thought most of Inspur’s storage solutions were focused on large hyperscale companies. At the show, the company had solutions starting with this lower-cost AS2150G2 storage solution:
The company had storage solutions scaling up to the Inspur AS13000G5 which is a distributed storage platform for its hyperscale customers.
At IPF 2019, the company also announced its all-flash array. This would use third-party SSDs at launch and eventually incorporate the company’s new NVMe SSD. The new all-flash storage series will range from small footprints to large arrays. Inspur says arrays feature up to 100PB of flash storage 15 million IOPS, and a sub-0.2ms latency.
We saw that Inspur also has its own storage management software. We took a snapshot of a demonstration wall that the company had here. The top left is a pure demo screen but we were told that the bottom and right-hand screens are actual views of the management software.
Overall, the company has a much larger portfolio than we knew about prior to IPF 2019.
Next, we are going to cover some of Inspur’s AI Portfolio announcements and discuss what we saw on the server side at IPF 2019.