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Apple eyes Asian server market

The company has its sights fixed on Asia?s multimedia streaming, education and biotech markets as it gears up to push its recently launched Xserve rack-mounted server.

Apple Computer has its sights fixed on Asia?s multimedia streaming, education and biotech markets as it gears up to push its recently launched Xserve rack-mounted server.

Asia?s server market is dominated by deeply entrenched brand names such as Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. But there is room for a newcomer like Apple, asserts Albert Lam, Apple?s South Asia managing director.

The Xserve is Apple?s first rack-mounted server. It uses one unit of rack space and runs the Unix-based Mac OS X operating system.

Frontline Technologies, a Singapore-based IT services company, will resell the Xserve in Asia. Cheong Yen Niap, Frontline?s managing director, said that despite the Xserve?s late start, there are niches it can compete in.

He named Asia?s growing life sciences and biotech fields as potential markets, where molecular modeling and number-crunching computers will be in demand.

Unix administrators will find the interface familiar, he said, because Mac OS X is based on Unix, the most common large-server operating system.

Apple is confident the Xserve?s price will be another compelling factor for companies to snap up the machine.

As an example, an Xserve with dual 1GHz PowerPC processors, 512MB of memory, dual gigabit Ethernet and 480GB of storage will cost $5,646.

Its closest competitor is a $6,025 IBM xSeries 330 with dual Intel Pentium III processors, 512MB of memory, 146GB of storage and the open-source Linux OS. A Dell PowerEdge 1650 with dual 1.4GHz Pentium III chips, 512MB of memory and 146GB of storage will cost $7,496---with the catch that only 25 clients are allowed to connect to its Windows 2000 operating system.

CNETAsia's John Lui reported from Singapore.