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IDC Predicts Decent HPC Server Growth.

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

The analysts at International Data Corp has taken out their crystal balls and reckon that the high-performance and supercomputer server market will grow at an average annual growth rate of 6.1% between now and 2007, reaching $6.3bn.

In addition to prognosticating about the HPC and supercomputer markets, the analysts also performed a ranking of the top 1,599 HPC machines installed in the world. The IDC rankings are based on an algorithm developed by the company called the IDC Balanced Rating. These rankings are thought to be more indicative of the relative performance of various kinds of parallel, vector, and hybrid HPC servers than the more popular Linpack benchmarks that are used in the more well-known Top 500 supercomputer list.

The IDC Balanced Rating is based on a mix of Linpack, SPECfp_Rate, SPECint_Rate, and STREAM TRAID benchmark tests. These tests, says Earl Joseph, research vice president for worldwide systems and servers at IDC, weigh processor performance, memory bandwidth, and scalability of processors, memory, and I/O against each other to come up with a composite ranking. IDC's ranking is sophisticated, which means it reflects the diversity of the HPC server market. It also has the added benefit of allowing just about all vendors to claim to be a top supplier in some set of the market, which probably smoothes relationships between IDC and the HPC vendors considerably.

IDC stratified vendor market share within four different segments and then published a comparison of the top 200 machines in each category among a total list of 1,599 machines.

In the class of high-end HPC machines that IDC labels as Capability machines, which are used to tackle the most intense number-crunching and visualization jobs, IBM Corp had 36% of the top 200 systems. SGI Inc had 19%, followed by Hewlett-Packard Co with 13%, Cray Inc and Sun Microsystems Inc with 8% each, NEC Corp with 7%, and Fujitsu-Siemens with 6%. IBM had 49% of the clustered machines in the Capability category among the top 200 on the Balanced Rating list, while SGI had 50% and Cray had 36% of the non-parallel, single-image Capability machines. NEC's Earth Simulator, which is running environmental simulations for the Japanese government, is still the top-ranked machine in both the IDC list and the Top 500 list that is based on Linpack.

In the Enterprise class of HPC machines, which cost $1m or more (but less than the tens to hundreds of millions that Capability-class machines cost), Sun had 59 percent of the top 200 machines in this part of the list, followed by HP with 22%, SGI with 10%, and IBM with 6%. It is worth noting that IBM is growing fast in this segment, and has the largest machine installed in this subset of the HPC market.

In the Divisional class of HPC servers, where machines cost more than $250,000 but under $1m, HP and Compaq were vying for control of this segment before the HP-Compaq merger, and they by and large control this part of the market today. HP has 48% of the 200 machines in the Divisional class, followed by SGI with 34%. SGI has the biggest machine in this class, however, and is coming on strong with its Itanium-based and Linux-based Altix 3000s, which were designed to pursue this as well as larger HPC markets.

HP is also the champion of the Departmental HPC server category, according to IDC's rankings, having 53% of the top 200 machines installed in this category. Departmental HPC servers, says IDC, cost less than $250,000. IBM has 23% of this slice of the HPC market, followed by SGI with 22%.
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Publication:Computergram International
Article Type:Industry Overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 12, 2003
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