In a bid to get more people to buy fault-tolerant servers, NEC has launched a low-end model, half the price of its previous low-end version, with some high-end features removed.

The Express5800/320Ma FT will have one socket instead of two, and will not have Active Upgrade, a feature which lets users upgrade without any downtime.

The price starting point of the previous NEC fault-tolerant system was about $30,000 in the US, while the new one will start at around $12,000. The new product is not yet show on NEC's UK page for fault tolerant servers.

Mike Mitsch, general manager of alliance and strategy for NEC's Solutions Products Group, said the system is intended for those users who can manage planned downtime. That might involve a reboot as part of an operating system upgrade.

The server is designed to avoid any unplanned downtime, Mitsch said. It includes two modules, each with its own socket and motherboards that include a complete server. The two modules operate in lockstep. If one fails, the other is designed to keep running, according to NEC.

Mitsch said the system will likely find users in security, health care, manufacturing and virtualisation. The system supports Windows Enterprise Server and Red Hat Linux.

"There is a growing demand for highly available systems," said Stephen L. Josselyn, an analyst at market research firm IDC. "For the applications that really demand higher levels of availability, I think that does provide a real viable solution for them," he said.