HPC Systems Post Solid Revenue Growth in Q1

By Alex Woodie

June 20, 2013

Worldwide sales of HPC servers perked up by 5.3 percent during the first quarter of 2013, to $2.5 billion, industry watchers at IDC reported last week. The increase was driven by sales of small and midrange HPC systems, as sales of high-end supercomputers declined.

The global HPC market is in the midst of a healthy upswing as the economy continues to recover. IDC says there were 33,511 HPC systems shipped during the first quarter, a 16.4 percent increase from the first quarter of 2012.

Revenues in the divisional segment for HPC systems (those costing between $250,000 and $499,000) grew more than 21 percent during the quarter. Sales of departmental systems (between $100,000 and $249,000) grew nearly 11 percent, while revenue from workgroup HPC revenues (below $100,000) grew nearly 16 percent over the 2012 figures.

Revenues for the high-end supercomputers segment ($500,000 and up) declined by nearly 11 percent, to $861 million in 1Q13 compared to the first quarter of 2012. Last year was a very good year for supercomputer sales (almost 30 percent growth in revenue), as IDC says there were several huge systems sold that pushed the revenue figures upward. IDC says it expects the high-end supercomputer revenue to increase throughout 2013 as several new systems go online.

IBM and HP are in a dead heat for bragging rights for the title of largest HPC system maker. According to IDC, both vendors had 31.5 percent of the total revenue share for the quarter, followed by Dell at 14.3 percent.

SGI and Dawning made huge gains in revenue, with 51 percent and 38 percent growth figures respectively. IBM grew its revenues by almost 13 percent, while HP grew revenues by 7 percent. SGI’s growth was driven by high-end supercomputer sales, while the sales growth of Dawning, IBM, and HP were primarily driven by entry-level and midrange HPC systems.

Earl Joseph, program vice president for technical computing at IDC, says he expects the economic recovery to spur potential HPC buyers to get off the fence and complete planned purchases of entry-level and midrange HPC systems to analyze data.

“Supercomputer revenues actually accelerated during the global economic downturn, driven by the growing recognition of the crucial role these systems play in economic competitiveness as well as scientific progress,” Joseph says in a press release.”

IDC foresees the global HPC market experiencing a 6.8 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) with revenues reaching $15.4 billion by 2017.

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