IDC HPC Briefing at ISC 2008 in Dresden

My notes from IDC's HPC briefing at the ISC 2008 conference here in Dresden. The IDC folks are fast slide flippers so interesting details are missing in some cases--best I could do.

New HPC tracking methods review. HPC market update (2007, forecasts, cluster update) New IDC research findings -- HPC management software

HPC means "all technical servers" -- HPC, HPTC, technical servers, highly computational servers are all synonyms. Anything bigger than a desktop that is computationally or data intensive.

HPC growth stronger than expected. 19% CAGR over last four year. $11.5B in 2007. x86 and Linux dominate. Blades making inroads into all segments. Clusters continue to gain share. Major challenges are power, cooling, realestate, storage and data management, system management. Software continues to be a major hurdle.

Supercomputer now equals anything over $500K. Divisional $250K-$499K. Departmental is $100K-$249K. Workgroup 0-$99K. Biggest growth is in departmental space. 45% CAGR Departmental.

Total server market is about $52B. Of that business servers are $42B and HPC is about $10B.

Look at all server processors, technical versus commercial. Almost one third in HPC at this point. Virtualization has reduced processor counts in commercial. And HPC customers buy lots of processors because they (x86 called out) do a poor job of running required workloads--need more. Many-core processors amplify this.

Clusters still hard to use and manage. System management and growing cluster complexity. Power, cooling, floor space. Third party cost issues -- up to 60-65% of budget in some cases.

Software becoming #1 bottleneck. Better management software needed--new buyers require high ease of use. Parallel software issues related to multicore. Application rewrites required.

HPC vendor market share: HP 32.9%; IBM 32.9%; Dell 17.8%; Sun 4.6%. x86 now at 72% share in 2007. Linux 74% share in 2007. Watching Windows closely -- has a stable 5% share, roughly.

HPC processors are now shipping at a rate of over 3.3M/year. HPC clusters represent over 2.6M/year.

Forecast results based on these assumptions: Worldwide economic downturn will negatively impact overall IT spending, but HPC will be somewhat insulated due to its R&D nature. Commodization will continue to rule. Global petascale initiative will push technical innovation. Major growth areas will be energy, defense, security, manufacturing, and entertainment. Many-core will ignite a new growth curve as customers buy more processors, BUT this has not been factored into forecast.

5-year forecast says that major growth will be in the low to mid parts of the market with double digit growth in those segments. 9.2% overall market growth for market. Storage five-year CAGR predicted to be 11.4%.

Blades optimize on environmental factors. One and two RU rack servers will also continue to be important for their flexibility.

Overall guidance on areas of focus for vendors: work on getting more memory bandwidth to sockets, specialised processors, speed of interconnect, better data management, power and cooling. Pay attention to the mid and low end of market where most growth will occur.

Introduced a new term: "hpc management software" in recognition of fact that this area is becoming a large problem as clusters get larger and more complex and customers take an a la carte approach to systems, putting heavy burden on system administrators and user support personnel.

There then followed a presentation of the joint work done by IDC and the Council on Competitiveness. The Reflect and Reveal studies, which are well worth reading to understand the perspective of new entrants into HPC, a high growth area for the market. The reports are available for download here. This is the same material that was presented at the IDC HPC User Forum meeting in Norfolk, Virginia this past April.

New areas of research for IDC. Extreme computing -- any kind of technology (hw/sw/business models) that may define the datacenter of the future. Adding performance and price performance to quarterly views. HPC storage market sizing and forecasts, including data management research. HPC end-user quarterly view--what is actually going on at sites, including info on what benchmarks customers are using to make selection decisions. Multi-core issues, specifically application impacts. New low-end workgroup computers--expect people moving from a desktop to get their apps running in parallel and then jump in at workgroup level or perhaps higher--not clear at this point. Tracking petascale and exascale initiatives. Country-level HPC tracking -- 17 countries. Market share by application/industry by vendor. Datacenter assessment and benchmarking

HPC User Forum meetings will include OIl/gas meetings and Finance meetings to do drilldowns on technical requirements in these areas.

HPC Storage growth charts. Total $3.7B in 2006. Growth projection showed good growth and absolute market size below compute and above service.

User Forum meetings: Oct 13-14 Stuttgart; Oct 16 London; Sept 8-10 Tucson, AZ.


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