Servers used in clusters did particularly well, with clustering system from high-end vendors comprising nearly half of the overall HPC market in the fourth quarter of 2004. The assessment of the server market by IDC, released Tuesday, also found that low-end servers for the technical market, priced at less than $50,000, did well in 2004, showing 65 percent growth over 2003.
The overall market for high-performance servers should level off somewhat, seeing moderate growth over the next couple of years, said IDC officials.
"Future growth of the HPC market will be more moderate than in 2004, as customers follow the traditional path of adopting evolving technologies," said Chris Willard, vice president of technical computing systems at IDC. "But IDC expects stronger growth to continue for clusters and low-end servers, as hardware and software technologies for these products continue to improve."
The study assessed the growth of servers aimed primarily at academic use, enterprise research and development, and other markets with high-performance computational needs such as engineering and life sciences.
The growth levels, after downturns in 2001 and 2002 and only light growth in 2003, stem from improvements in the overall economy, said IDC's Earl Joseph.
"More high performance computing (HPC) users are seeing their budgets restored to pre-recession levels or even expanded, and new users are entering the market, especially in lower-price point segments," said Joseph, also a vice president of technical computing systems at IDC. "The HPC market's two-year growth spurt is heavily related to the continuing economic recovery, especially for research and development, which has increased buyer confidence and budget levels for traditional HPC customers."
Revenue in the entire tech server market reached $7.25 billion for 2004, up from the prior year's $5.6 billion. The revenue figure represents the highest ever seen in the high-performance server market, said IDC.