IDC: The Changing Face of HPC

By John Russell

July 16, 2015

At IDC’s annual ISC breakfast there was a good deal more than market update numbers although there were plenty of those: “We try to track every server sold, every quarter, worldwide,” said Earl Joseph, IDC program vice president and executive director HPC User Forum. Perhaps more revealing and as important this year was IDC’s unveiling of significant changes in how it is characterizing and measuring the HPC world.

For example, GPU and accelerator tracking has been promoted to a formal activity. But first the top line: The HPC market is growing after a period of sluggishness. It’s now around $10 billion (servers) and IDC expects it to grow substantially this year and steadily through 2019. Also, the collision of HPC and big data has perhaps been bigger than expected and prompted a change in IDC’s data gathering efforts.

“Lately we found that the vendors are having great difficulty determining how many systems go into HPC versus other areas so we’ve had to switch our data collection to very large scale surveys of buyers and users. Last year we exceeded 40,000 surveys and this year it will probably be on the same order of magnitude,” said Joseph.

“One thing I want to mention is about six months ago, with all the data collection we were doing and comparing things, some numbers just stopped adding up and what we found was that the financial sector has been growing faster than we thought and has become much larger over the last two years. In 2010 it didn’t recover much but then went into a hyper growth mode so you will see us restate our numbers for the last two years on the financial sector [up] on the order of at least a 50 percent,” the analyst continued.

For years, IDC has divvied up HPC into four categories: supercomputer; divisional; departmental; and workgroup. Those numbers are shown below.

IDC.ISC.Server Market

However sales for the top ten systems skew cumulative data so much that IDC is changing the way it characterizes the market.

“Except for the top ten systems the whole market grew dramatically. This is something we’ve struggled with in the past couple of years. The plan now is to introduce a fifth competitive segment all round the top ten. We’re not sure what we are going to call it, maybe something like leadership computers, but the market dynamics around those top 5-10 machines are totally different,” said Joseph. The report card and forecast the broader market are shown below.

IDC.ISC.Broad Market

You can see that storage remains hot and is expected to grow faster than other segments; that is being fueled by more data collection and more data analysis. IDC has labeled the fragmented storage market as something of a Wild West, although big players are now turning their attention to that market. IDC suggests similar dynamics in the interconnect space. Middleware is also being watched carefully not least because one would expect increased tool buying to accompany any large-scale movement to upgrade software; the latter of course is seen as a growing pain point in HPC.

Well-noted was the much discussed effect of IBM’s sale of its x86 business to Lenovo. The table below on Q1 2015 sales starkly portrays IBM’s tumble. Joseph commented: “The industry for the last decade was basically tied with two vendors: HP and IBM had 30-34 percent each. Then you had Dell at half of that. All the other vendors had a couple percent or lower. The market now is completely different. HP is the market leader; it’s on the order of a third of the market. We were expecting to see three vendors around 15 percent and the shock here is the IBM decline was higher than expected.”

Joseph was quick to add caution in reading Cray, SGI and the smaller vendors’ one-quarter numbers: “Cray’s going to have a fourth quarter that is three times their market share and so you really have to average the small vendors.” 2015’s Q1 showed ten percent growth relative to 2014 Q1 (See, IDC Says Lenovo Strengthens, IBM Stumbles in Q1 Ranking).

IDC.ISC.Vendor.RevenueTo a fair degree, ongoing market dynamics and IDC’s responses to them were as interesting as the sales numbers. Big data continues to expand and transform the HPC world; cloud adoption for HPC purposes is probably higher than you thought; nascent HPC ROI models are showing dramatic value; and vendor shuffling, perhaps not unexpected following IBM’s x86 business sale, continues. A plus for IBM is emerging traction in the market for OpenPOWER which now has nearly 150 members; over time IBM expects to regain market share in the technical server market along with other members of OpenPOWER.

Among the top HPC trends and watch areas cited by IDC are:

  • 2014 was soft but 2015 won’t be.
  • Big data combined with HPC is creating new solutions.
  • Software issues continue to grow.
  • GPUs & accelerators extend their impact.
  • Non-x86 processors could alter the landscape.
  • China looms large(r).
  • Growing influence of the datacenter in IT food chain.
  • HPC in the cloud gaining traction.

The cloud numbers are interesting. IDC surveyed 157 HPC sites on their use of clouds and roughly 25 percent reported they were using clouds and those who use clouds reported that nearly a third (31.2 percent) of their workloads were run on clouds.

Bob Sorensen, research vice president in IDC’s High Performance Computing group, said, “I should add the caution that some of what they are uploading are what we would consider the low hanging fruit, some of the embarrassingly parallel applications that don’t require very specific architecture. So it’s still early but we expect more sophisticated applications [to be run in the cloud] as time progresses.”

Perhaps the most transformative trend explored is big data convergence with HPC. Just what that means varies widely depending on which vendor is talking, influenced in no small measure but the type of technology they have to sell.

Interestingly, IDC is changing how it examines HPDA activities and introduced four new industry/application workflows including:

  • Fraud and anomaly detection. This “horizontal” workload segment centers around identifying harmful or potentially harmful patterns and causes using graph analysis, semantic analysis, or other high performance analytics techniques.
  • Marketing. This segment covers the use of HPDA to promote products or services, typically using complex algorithms to discern potential customers’ demographics, buying preferences and habits.
  • Business intelligence. The workload segment uses HPDA to identify opportunities to advance the market position and competitiveness of businesses, by better understanding themselves, their competitors, and the evolving dynamics of the markets they participate in.
  • Other Commercial HPDA. This catchall segment includes all commercial HPDA workloads other than the three just described. Over time, IDC expects some of these workloads to become significant enough to split out, i.e. the use of HPDA to manage large IT infrastructures, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) infrastructures.

(Note: financial, classified buyers, etc. will continue to be listed under the existing IDC segments)

Notably, “HPDA adoption has changed over time. It’s made its way into the scientific community and basically reached the point where it stands almost shoulder to shoulder with traditional modeling and simulation,” said Sorensen. Right now there are few rules, and IDC’s advice is to ‘embrace the chaos.’ There is so far no single best or even standard HPDA solution.

Joseph added that in the last six months IDC has conducted seven HPDA surveys, “We’ve studied everything from what are the underlying applications, what are the algorithms, where are the benchmarks, how do you evaluate a good HPDA system and solution, whether a distributed database or single database is better, and what hardware architecture do vendors plan to use to address the HPDA space.”

IDC.ISC.HPDS DiagramLots of questions and opportunities think IDC and virtually everyone else. In a survey of 128 HPC sites about 23 percent reported use of an HPC system for HPDA purposes.

One intriguing topic tackled is HPC ROI measurement. IDC has been developing economic models to try to unravel that question for some time, mostly driven by a contract with DOE. That three-year effort will be likely extended another 6-9 years, said Joseph.

In simple terms, the model input is HPC investment and the output is revenue growth, profit, and job creation. The early work seems exceedingly positive. IDC reported that for every $1 invested in HPC $356 in revenue and $38 in profit were generated – impressive if accurate.

Many more topics were touched upon and IDC is making the report available to all of the session attendees. This was the first year the event was part of ISC’s official agenda. Joseph reviewed HPC User Forum activities and said the group now planned to make all six year’s worth of HPC User Forum meeting presentations available to everyone, free, from the HPC User Forum website. It would be a fascinating exercise to review HPC expectation (user and vendor) versus results.

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!

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is only a fraction of the size of its two bigger rivals, and h Read more…

By Doug Black

AWS to Offer Nvidia’s T4 GPUs for AI Inferencing

March 19, 2019

The AI inference market is booming, prompting well-known hyperscaler and Nvidia partner Amazon Web Services to offer a new cloud instance that addresses the growing cost of scaling inference. The new “G4” instances... Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiology. Clara, you may recall, is Nvidia’s biomedical platform Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

The Spark That Ignited A New World of Real-Time Analytics

High Performance Computing has always been about Big Data. It’s not uncommon for research datasets to contain millions of files and many terabytes, even petabytes of data, or more. Read more…

DARPA, NSF Seek Real-Time ML Processor

March 18, 2019

A new U.S. research initiative seeks to develop a processor capable of real-time learning while operating with the “efficiency of the human brain.” The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency jointly announced a “Real Time Machine Learning” project on March 15 soliciting industry proposals for “foundational breakthroughs” in hardware required to “build systems that respond and adapt in real time.” Read more…

By George Leopold

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First U.S. Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Wins Mellanox Stakes for $6.9 Billion

March 11, 2019

The long-rumored acquisition of Mellanox came to fruition this morning with GPU chipmaker Nvidia’s announcement that it has purchased the high-performance net Read more…

By Doug Black

Optalysys Rolls Commercial Optical Processor

March 7, 2019

Optalysys, Ltd., a U.K. company seeking to advance it optical co-processor technology, moved a step closer this week with the unveiling of what it claims is th Read more…

By George Leopold

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This