HPC Server Market Maintains Strong Growth in Third Quarter, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, MA – DECEMBER 4, 2007 – Thanks to starting prices as low as $10,000 and evolving R&D practices, high performance computing (HPC) systems – formerly called supercomputers – have become far more pervasive in government, industry, and academia. According to IDC, factory revenue for the HPC market grew 8.8% quarter over quarter and a full 18% compared to the same period last year, to reach $3.0 billion in the third quarter (3Q07). The worldwide server market, of which HPC servers are a part, grew 0.5% to reach $13.1 billion in 3Q07.

Third-quarter 2007 shipments of processor packages in the HPC market totaled 1.3 million, up 26% from the second quarter. In 2006, HPC systems accounted for 26% of all processors sold in the server market, more than doubling the 2003 HPC share of about 12%.

"The rapid growth of HPC server revenue and processor counts since 2002 fits the classic profile of a disruptive technology," said Vernon Turner, senior vice president of IDC's Enterprise Infrastructure, Consumer, and Telecom research. "A major HPC growth driver has been lower entry prices that make HPC systems affordable for smaller organizations and business units. Another driver is changing R&D practices, including dramatic increases in the cost of live experiments compared to computer modeling and simulation, and the growth of computation-intensive interdisciplinary research methods."

"On the processor front, the growth has been extreme with over 1.3 million processor packages sold into the HPC market in 3Q07, this represents a 59% growth in processors shipped from the same quarter last year", according to Dr. Earl Joseph, program vice president, High Performance Computing. "High performance computing is creating a sea change in scientific/engineering R&D, which is fueling the market growth. IDC projects that HPC server market growth will exceed $15 billion by 2011."

The dramatic HPC market growth is being driven almost entirely by clusters and faster processor technologies. "Powered by their price/performance advantage, clusters now dominate all segments of the HPC market. In addition, the HPC market is seeing a shift towards fatter nodes as multicore technology becomes pervasive," said Jie Wu, research manager, Technical Computing Systems. "This is also driving the requirements for larger/faster memories and improved interconnection technologies." '

Additional IDC HPC research findings include the following:

* Over the last four years the HPC market has seen revenue growth averaging 20% per year.

* HPC clusters continued to gain momentum across all HPC segments. Revenue from clusters represented 68% of the overall HPC server revenue for the third quarter of 2007.

* Compared to the same quarter in 2006, cluster revenue has grown 40%.

* HPC system usage is growing in all end-user segments including government, academia, and industry.

* The fastest-growing area is the workgroup segment for systems priced under $50,000, which is projected to have 11.4% CAGR through 2011.

* In 2006, HPC server revenue surpassed $10 billion. IDC values the broader HPC market, including servers, storage and services, at $16.3 billion in 2006.

* For many engineering and scientific studies it has become far cheaper and faster to use computer simulation instead of more costly physical experiments. Competitive pressures are pushing many R&D groups to complete their research in a much shorter time frame.

* Among the fast-growing vertical segments are biosciences, geosciences (oil and gas), computer-aided engineering (CAE), electronic data automation (EDA), defense, and university research.

* In the early '90s a typical full-size supercomputer cost $25 million; today, a sizeable and robust HPC cluster can be purchased for under $100,000.

"IDC research is showing a strong influx of new HPC users in the workgroup segment and rapidly increasing demand for more processing power and storage capabilities across the whole HPC market," Joseph said. "Businesses of all sizes are finding HPC-based modeling and simulation indispensable for their ability to innovate, compete, and survive."

About IDC

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