This IDC update looks at the upper end of the supercomputer market. High-performance computing (HPC) is the use of computers by scientists, engineers, analysts, and others for running highly computational or data-intensive problems. Users are trying to solve some very complicated problems, from conundrums such as how the universe works, how our DNA really functions, and how we can cure people by rearranging DNA to more immediate challenges such as how to make cars safer and use less fuel, how to keep us safer from terrorists, how to predict storms and climate change, and how to make animation more realistic in movies and videos.
IDC defines "supercomputers" as technical servers that cost over $500,000. High-end supercomputers are those that cost over $3 million. The high-end supercomputer market is inherently lumpy but can be very rewarding for the few vendors capable of competing effectively in this space. Over the past eight years, there have been substantial fluctuations in the overall supercomputer market, with very high growth in 2009, 2011, and 2012 and sizable declines in 2013 and 2014. IDC expects that although the high end of the supercomputer market doubled in 2009 and 2012 and had strong growth in 2011 and 2015, the high-end supercomputer market will continue to see healthy growth over time, but with a large amount of variability. This update explores recent changes and likely growth over the next three years.