While they battle it out for market share in the worldwide server space, technology giants IBM and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are also in close contention for worldwide market leadership in high performance computing (HPC), capturing 32.7 percent and 29.8 percent of overall revenue share, respectively, according to IT research firm IDC's Worldwide High-Performance Technical Server QView.
Overall, worldwide factory revenue for the HPC technical server market was essentially flat year over year in the second quarter of 2012 (2Q12). According to the report, revenue in the second quarter dipped slightly (-0.9 percent) to $2.4 billion, down from $2.5 billion in the same period of 2011. Despite the 2Q12 numbers, IDC said it still expects HPC technical server market revenues to expand by 7.1 percent year over year to reach $11 billion, exceeding 2011's record-breaking revenues of $10.3 billion.
Although the report noted average selling points continue to grow, thanks to an ongoing, multi-year shift to large system sales, 2Q12 unit sales declined by more than 21 percent to 22,998 compared to the second quarter of 2011. During the first half of 2012, the HPC technical server market declined by 1 percent, with a decline of 11 percent in unit shipments, compared to the same period in 2011, the report noted. Revenue in the high-end Supercomputers segment for HPC systems sold for $500,000 and up was the strongest performer in the market, jumping 21.8 percent over 1Q12 to reach $1.17 billion.
The high-end Supercomputers segment accounted for 48.6 percent of worldwide HPC technical server revenue in 2Q12, while the Divisional segment ($250,000 to $499,000 price band) captured 13.4 percent of overall revenue. At the other end of the price spectrum, revenue for Workgroup HPC systems sold for below $100,000 -- experienced a decline of 12.5 percent in the first half of 2012 when compared to the first half of 2011.
On the vendor side, behind IBM and HP came Dell, which maintained its strong third-place position with 14.2 percent of global revenue, while Cray (+43.7 percent), Fujitsu (+33.5 percent), and SGI (+10.3 percent) all made impressive year-over year revenue gains during the second quarter of 2012. IDC said it expects the HPC technical server market to grow at a healthy 7.3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the five-year forecast to reach revenues of $14 billion by 2016.
"HPC technical servers, especially Supercomputers, have been closely linked not only to scientific advances but also to industrial innovation and economic competitiveness. For this reason, nations and regions across the world are increasing their investments in supercomputing even in today's challenging economic conditions," Earl Joseph, program vice president for technical computing at IDC, said in prepared remarks. "We expect the global race for HPC leadership in the petascale-exascale era to continue heating up during this decade."
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