IDC Finds Server Bright Spot in Global HPC Sales

HPC serversThe overall server market may be foundering in the doldrums, but it’s full steam ahead for at least one segment of the enterprise computing space. High-priced and super-powerful High Performance Computing (HPC) machines are staging a bit of a rally and buoying the big iron fortunes of vendors like IBM Corp. and the beleaguered Hewlett-Packard Co.

According to the latest market figured from analyst firm IDC Corp., out today, worldwide revenue for the HPC servers jumped 7.9 percent to $2.6 billion in the second quarter of 2013, up from $2.4 billion in the same period last year.

Fueling the recovery, according to IDC, are sales in what the firm considers the low end of the pricey server segment, particularly among units selling for $250,000 or less. The segment was hard hit during the recent recession when many organizations deferred such purchases, but a rebound is under way, IDC maintains.

The brightest spot in the IDC report was in HPC systems selling below $100,000. Revenue for those servers went up 45 percent year over year to top $414 million. HPC units priced from $100,000 to $249,000 jumped up nearly 34 percent in to $928 million. Units in the $250,000 to $499,000 price range saw a 29 percent revenue increase to $349 million. Together those three sgments accounted for almost two-thirds of all HPC servers sold globally.

As expected, the so-called Supercomputer segment saw a decline in revenues and a slight drop in the number of units shipped from the previous quarter.

“The top half of the HPC market, especially supercomputer systems sold for $500,000 and up, expanded rapidly right through the global economic recession and experienced record-setting growth in 2012. We said earlier that we did not expect the supercomputers segment to maintain that steep growth curve in 2013, although there will be other growth periods in the future,” said IDC Technical Computing Vice President Earl Joseph. “In the first and second quarters of this year, revenue growth has shifted to sub-$250,000 systems as the lower half of the market continues to rebound from the global economic recession.”

According to data released at the IDC HPC User Forum in Boston, HP and IBM kept their neck-and-neck lock on the global HPC market with 30.1 percent and 29.7 percent of HPC revenue share, respectively. Dell Inc. maintained its strong third-place position with 14.6 percent of global HPC revenue.

Also making strong revenue share gains in the segment were Bull, Dawning, and SGI, according to IDC.

The bright HPC server news comes even as worldwide sales of traditional servers declined 6.1 percent in the second quarter, marking the second consecutive quarter of falling sales as businesses constrain their IT spending and work to maximize their existing infrastructure assets, according to IDC.

Worse news for server vendors and resellers: Shipment numbers fell 1.2 percent — the third consecutive negative period. The sharper revenue decline with the modest shipment decline indicating prices are under pressure and vendors are discounting to entice sales of the standard servers.