The high performance computing (HPC) market seems to be doing very well, says analyst IDC, although the niche supercomputer segment has slipped.
Worldwide factory revenue for the HPC technical server market increased 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to reach $2.5 billion, up from $2.4 billion in the same period of 2012, said IDC.
Shipments of 33,511 units in 1Q13 jumped 16.4 percent from the prior-year first quarter, primarily due to increased sales in the departmental, divisional, and workgroup segments, the analyst said.
Last year, IDC said it expected the divisional, departmental and workgroup segments to "rebound" as the global economy recovered. Revenue numbers reported by major vendors confirmed that this rebound was under way in 1Q13.
IDC corroborated the vendor-reported trend with global field research. In the first quarter, the divisional segment for HPC systems (priced from $250,000 to $499,000) grew 21.3 percent over the prior-year first quarter.
Revenues for departmental systems (priced $100,000 to $249,000) expanded 10.8 percent year over year, and workgroup revenues (priced below $100,000) advanced 15.6 percent over the first quarter of 2012.
But revenues in the high-end supercomputers segment (systems sold for $500,000 and up) declined to $861 million in 1Q13, a -10.9 percent drop year over year.
Overall, 2012 was an "exceptionally strong year" for the supercomputers segment, which grew 29.6 percent over full-year 2011, due to the deployment of several very large supercomputers, said the analyst.
IDC anticipates that through the rest of 2013, the supercomputers segment will see increased growth driven by the deployment of additional large systems across the world.
"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," said IDC analyst Earl Joseph.
"Now the ongoing economic recovery is encouraging existing buyers to complete postponed purchases of entry-level and midrange HPC systems, and new buyers are acquiring these systems for high performance data analysis."
HP and IBM remained in close contention for worldwide HPC market leadership, with each vendor capturing 31.5 percent of overall revenue share.
Dell maintained its strong third-place position with 14.3 percent of global revenue.