Suzanne Tracy, Editor-in-ChiefHigh performance computing resources are increasingly crucial for extending capabilities from search to discovery. Remember the old Shake’n’Bake commercials where the parents exclaim over the breaded chicken at dinner and the child chimes in, “And I helped!”? In 2012, record-setting HPC server revenue was the tasty chicken, and the little helper was Big Data.

HPC server revenue grew 7.7 percent over 2011, beating International Data Corporation’s 7.1 percent forecast to hit an all-time high of $11.1 billion. The supercomputers segment for systems sold at $500,000-and-up continued as the heavy lifter. Supercomputer sales jumped 29.3 percent from the prior year to $5.6 billion worldwide, inching past 50 percent of all HPC server revenues.

But 2012 was an unusually strong growth year for supercomputers and, according to Steve Conway, Research VP, HPC at IDC that pace will slow. However, IDC forecasts that the overall HPC technical server market will experience a healthy 7.3 percent compound annual growth rate over the 2011 to 2016 forecast period, with revenues exceeding $14 billion by 2016.

What role does big data and “high performance data analysis” play in this global market? Steve explains that high-performance data analysis is a term IDC coined to describe the convergence of the established data-intensive HPC market based on modeling and simulation, and the high-end analytics market, which includes commercial firms moving up to HPC resources for the first time.

The common denominator underlying simulation- and analytics-based HPDA workloads is a degree of algorithmic complexity that is atypical for transaction processing-based business computing. With the help of sophisticated algorithms, HPC resources already are enabling established HPC users, as well as commercial adopters, to move beyond “needle in a haystack” searches in order to discover high-value, dynamic patterns. HPC resources will be increasingly crucial for extending “Big Data” capabilities from search to discovery.

IDC forecasts that revenue for HPC servers acquired primarily for HPDA use will grow robustly. HPDA-centric servers contributed $673 million to HPC revenues in 2011 and will contribute about $1.2 billion in 2015. Revenue for the whole HPDA ecosystem, including servers, storage and interconnects, software and services, should double the server figure alone.

Read Steve’s full article, entitled “Big Data Helps Lift HPC Market to Record Revenues,” and more coverage of the high performance computing industry at our Web site at