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IDC Top 10 HPC Market Predictions for 2012

International Data Corporation (IDC), the premier provider of market intelligence and advisory services has come up with the TOP 10 predictions for the HPC market for 2012. IDC's HPC team includes Earl Joseph, Steve Conway, Chirag DeKate, Lloyd Cohen, Beth Throckmorton, Charlie Hayes, and Mary Rolph. Their predictions offer insights into how the trends in HPC markets could drive the future changes and developments in this field.


1. The HPC Market Will Continue to Benefit from the Global Economic Recovery
2011 saw a HPC server revenue of about $10 billion. This is significant rebound to the pre-recession high point. The forecast from IDC for 2012 is that this will reach $10.6 billion and a projected revenue of $13.4 billion by 2015.

2. The Worldwide High End Race Will Accelerate
The geographic breadth and diversity has increased in the HPC vendor market. India, China, France, Italy, Russia and US are all now into this space. North America still leads the HPC server share with 45% and US vendors occupy 94% on the high-end ($500k/system) revenue. With the largest supercomputers now costing $100-$400 million, there will be increasing pressure from political circles to justify the ROI. (Did we hear Japan?)

3. Exascale Decisions Could Shift Future Leadership
IDC predicts nations that under-invest in exascale software will lose ground in the HPC market. Improvements and advances in software and tools for effective usage of HPC platforms will be more important than the hardware progress. Hence we are seeing increasing number of vendors entering into the software HPC market thereby driving commoditization. Maintaining optimal balance among performance, power consumption and reliability will continue to be a challenge for architecting HPC solutions

4. Software Leadership Will Become the New Battleground
Predominantly US has been leading in the HPC software sector. But others are sure catching up. European commission is making big investment plans for HPC software and hardware. Japan has plans of investing $35-$40 million for exascale software development.

5. The Processor Arena Will Become More Crowded
x86 processors remains the dominant HPC processor market with about 82% share. IBM Power also is a prominent player with 11%. But it's the accelerators like GPUs and FPGAs that are gaining enormous ground. 28% of HPC sites worldwide are now enabled with GPU acceleration. Low powered processors such as ARM have found a liking by lot of hardware vendors (such as Nvidia) to build heterogeneous processors. Challenge ofcourse though is providing the programmers with the right tools and software to build applications targeting these new hardware platforms.

6. National/Regional Technology Development Will Gain Momentum
The worldwide sentiment continues to remain that HPC technology is strategic and not preferable to be outsourced. Well, we know India built its own homegrown supercomputer back in 1980s because of the denial of access to HPC systems from abroad. Europe and Russia are all on the path to developing indigenous HPC technologies. A growing thought from all scientists and engineers is that a creditable HPC technology development can only happen if the environment is one of more choices for the users and avoiding protectionism.

7. Big Data Methods Will Start to Transform the HPC Market, Including Storage
Existing commercial Big Data vendors are understanding the importance of HPC and the 2 fields are colliding. There is enormous interest generating for Big Data applications built on HPC technologies. Storage revenue will continue to grow 2-3% faster than servers. Data transfer technologies are of utmost importance for HPC applications for performance considerations. Faster interconnects and improved memory design for minimized data movement are on the feature list of most of the hardware vendors today.

8. Cloud Computing Will Make Steady Progress
A fair bit of adoption is happening in the private cloud for HPC. But the same is not true for public cloud because of concerns on security, latency and pricing. But some of the suggested workloads where HPC public clouds can be adopted are those which do not have significant communication overheads. This includes pre-production R&D projects and those by Small and Medium business enterprises who cannot afford for large data centers. Early adopters of HPC on cloud have been Government sectors, Manufacturing industries, Bio-Life sciences, Oil and Gas and Financial companies.

9. There Will Be Shifting Sands in the Networking Market
Infiniband has had more momentum in the HPC interconnect market, but nevertheless Ethernet is poised to expand its share. The forecast for HPC interconnect market is $2 billion by 2014. As per IDC, for the proprietary interconnect market to grow, they will have to differentiate on top of the emerging and advanced standards to compete with Ethernet and Infiniband.

10. Petascale Performance on Big Systems Will Create New Business Opportunities
The advances happening in the HPC server, processor, storage and networking market have opened up opportunities for a wide class of business applications to benefit from it. Application software will benefit from the higher performance that can be derived from heterogeneous systems and are also power aware. Big Data methods will see wider applications. On the system software side, smarter compilers and runtime systems are possible. Efficient power management is another critical design goal that can be achieved.

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