The Bright Side of Decline: IDC Sheds Light on HPC Server Market

By Nicole Hemsoth

April 2, 2014

As some of you have already noted, the most recent figures from IDC’s sweep of the HPC server market are in—and from the surface, they don’t suggest a stellar season ahead for supercomputing. However, when put into some broader context, particularly on the international scale with a few massive, surprise systems added to the mix, the big picture is anything but grim.

To recap quickly, the research group found that worldwide factory revenue for the HPC technical server market dipped 7.2%–knocking it to the $10.3 billion mark for the whole of 2013. Interestingly, this decline is based on the previous numbers from 2012, which showcased a record $11.1 billion. This was driven, in large part, by the power of a few versus the seismic forces of an entire market.

“The high end of the market has always been lumpy,” explained Steve Conway, Research Vice President in IDC’s technical computing division. “Ever since supercomputing has existed, there’s been a lot of variability quarter to quarter and year to year. It’s heavily driven by sales of the largest systems, which then throws the bell curve—just as it did here. He notes that even without those very few but massive sales, the high end is marching steadily forward. “If you don’t look at this market as a one-year thing, but rather as a trend line, it’s continuing to grow.”

462108395Conway reminded us that 2012 was very strong but was powered by some anomalies—a few strong sales in particular. The biggest was the K system in Japan, which was $550 million alone. “This, coupled with the Tianhe-2 in China, provided a sudden injection of spending that hadn’t been predicted—and very likely won’t be repeated in the near future. In other words, the decline in these numbers was well-anticipated.

When taking a look at the server market across all segments, HPC, despite a decline in overall spending in the last year, is doing far better than its general business computing brethren. The average selling price of HPC systems is already high and continues to mount in comparison. The difference in IDC’s most recent server market figures is not a matter of selling price, it’s the number of units sold. While that might be lower, the general server market has remained flat over the last several years with around 1% CAGR versus the relatively steady 7% for HPC.

Conway says that there are many considerations that contribute to this disparity in server market numbers, including what customers require from their systems and of course, HPC’s outsider status on some trends that have cheapened commodity enterprise computing, namely virtualization and server consolidation.

Speaking of that difference between the HPC and general business computing markets, there has seemed to be a convergence underway. We’ve been tracking how an increasing number of enterprise users are looking to technical computing servers and tools, which could signal further growth in these IDC HPC numbers. But let’s reverse that for a moment—are HPC shops looking to the commodity, stripped down (think Open Compute type) servers that are storming the enterprise?

According to Conway, these two spaces—HPC and high-end enterprise—are merging, but uni-directionally. He says more commercial firms are now HPC servers but on the flipside, the HPC folks are not really “down shifting” to look to enterprise servers. “The market is getting a little complicated now because there are workloads where the stripped down servers make sense, but on the other end, there’s a higher expectation from other users that even more should be included in clusters.” He says that they’re watching the trend but predicting it is no easy task once we move out another two or three years.

Another fuzzy area is around how new movements, including Hadoop, could alter future IDC HPC server market numbers. At the core of this is the “big data” trend, a great deal of which can be classified as technical computing under IDC’s larger definition of HPC and what is thrown into the mix. With analytics at the center of this defined as technical computing, Hadoop cannot be ignored. But interestingly, despite the noise around Hadoop in commercial circles, the risk-averse business world is less likely to adopt Hadoop for production environments. Conway said that Hadoop use in HPC trumps it in enterprise with 29% of shops reporting they were already using it. While there are a number of ways it must be modified (swapping out the native file system and  other efforts to boost performance) it’s striking that the most visible talk around Hadoop’s role in the world (solving big commercial problems one batch at a time) is from the one segment where the adoption is the slowest.

This all calls to mind the work being done at smaller and mid-sized houses—commercial and academic alike. The server market numbers were brightest for these segments, however, again, this is not just indicative of some massive market push, but rather other, more subtle forces. The most profound culprit for this growth is the recession (remember that?). These segments are bouncing back while large-scale HPC investments weren’t as affected since the wheels of those deals for big systems had been set in motion and were “too big to fail” in a sense. On the other hand, orders around $50,000 (for instance) were more easily put on ice or even cancelled during that uncertain time. They’re back now, reflecting that bounce, but also decent sales.

Among the vendors who stood out in the last year were HP (32.3% share), IBM (27.7%) and strong showings from others, including Cray, which had some sales of both supercomputers and internal products that boosted their revenue 23.4%. Another surprise was Dawning, which closed out the year with a whopping 73.8% revenue growth total over the course of 2012.

Conway stressed the importance of the overall trend line over multiple years for a healthy but hilly market like HPC. He plans on continued growth for the accelerator and coprocessor market, continued investment worldwide in exascale initiatives (although he argues that one common theme among nations is the need to provide a solid ROI argument for sustained funding), and what is already shaping up to be an exciting 2014—from the very peak of computing down to the smaller technical computing cluster levels.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

TACC Helps ROSIE Bioscience Gateway Expand its Impact

April 26, 2017

Biomolecule structure prediction has long been challenging not least because the relevant software and workflows often require high end HPC systems that many bioscience researchers lack easy access to. Read more…

By John Russell

Messina Update: The U.S. Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, Nvidia, Stone Ridge Claim Gas & Oil Simulation Record

April 25, 2017

IBM, Nvidia, and Stone Ridge Technology today reported setting the performance record for a “billion cell” oil and gas reservoir simulation. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Remote Visualization Optimizing Life Sciences Operations and Care Delivery

As patients continually demand a better quality of care and increasingly complex workloads challenge healthcare organizations to innovate, investing in the right technologies is key to ensuring growth and success. Read more…

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Musk’s Latest Startup Eyes Brain-Computer Links

April 21, 2017

Elon Musk, the auto and space entrepreneur and severe critic of artificial intelligence, is forming a new venture that reportedly will seek to develop an interface between the human brain and computers. Read more…

By George Leopold

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Messina Update: The U.S. Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Hyperion (IDC) Paints a Bullish Picture of HPC Future

April 20, 2017

Hyperion Research – formerly IDC’s HPC group – yesterday painted a fascinating and complicated portrait of the HPC community’s health and prospects at the HPC User Forum held in Albuquerque, NM. HPC sales are up and growing ($22 billion, all HPC segments, 2016). Read more…

By John Russell

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN openlab Explores New CPU/FPGA Processing Solutions

April 14, 2017

Through a CERN openlab project known as the ‘High-Throughput Computing Collaboration,’ researchers are investigating the use of various Intel technologies in data filtering and data acquisition systems. Read more…

By Linda Barney

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference phase of neural networks (NN). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This