RealTime IT News

RISC Servers Keep Up The Sales Pace

The worldwide server market closed 2003 with a bang, as overall shipments grew 24 percent in the fourth quarter. But the dark horse of last year seems to be boxes running on RISC-based chips, according to a report issued this week.

According to Gartner Dataquest's preliminary estimates for the past year, some 1.6 million servers were shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2003, making it the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for server shipments. The Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm is not expected to release the final tally of their server research until mid-February.

Gartner analyst Joe Gonzalez attributed the positive figures to the onset of an infrastructure upgrade by companies.

"Many of the purchases were made to replace legacy systems, Microsoft NT servers and boxes with faster processors," Gonzales told internetnews.com. "Although some of this can be attributed to seasonal growth, there are signs that the increased spending predicted for 2004 is in fact occurring now, resulting in increased shipments for the industry."

Although most user demand is still focused on the lower-priced one and two-way x86 systems, Gonzales said the most striking statistic was the amount of servers running RISC-based architectures.

"The third quarter of 2003 was the first quarter of growth for the RISC market in more than two years," Gonzales said. "Our current estimates suggest that this trend may continue."

Overall, Gonzales said market growth is very close to the x86 32 market growth, suggesting that the entire market, not just the industry architecture segment, is experiencing growth. For example, the x86 32 market grew an estimated 25.5 percent over the same quarter of 2002, finishing at a total of 1.45 million units worldwide.

So who are the big winners? Within the United States, the early draft of Gartner's report said Dell solidified its lead over Hewlett-Packard in x86 32 shipments. IBM trailed in third place at a sizable distance behind HP, but continued to gain ground. HP showed strong growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and finished the quarter with more than 200,000 units shipped.

Overall, Hewlett-Packard shipped an estimated 461,600 units during the quarter and continued to lead the server market. Dell was in second place, followed by IBM and Sun Microsystems . IBM led the top four vendors in both quarter-to-quarter and yearly shipment growth, resulting in a unit share gain of 1.8 percent from the fourth quarter of last year. Dell's estimated unit share also grew during the same period, rising from 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 20 percent a year later. HP, on the other hand, experienced a slight decrease in its unit share, which dropped from 29.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 29 percent a year later

In the x86 32 market, HP led with 443,000 units shipped. Dell was second with a total of 318,500 units, followed by IBM at 233,400. Once again, Gartner said HP lost ground in unit share while its two closest competitors, Dell and IBM, continued to close the gap. HP, however, maintained a lead in overall share of more than 8 points.