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Workstation market posts a surprise improvement

Comes off life support
Thu Mar 04 2010, 09:55

INDUSTRY WATCHER Jon Peddie Research has reported that the final quarter of 2009 produced impressive growth in the lucrative workstation and professional graphics market.

Coming after a disastrous start to 2009, which saw close to a 25 per cent drop from the already lagging figures of 2008, the workstation market rallied in the final two quarters to end up with just under 717,000 shipments. Even after an impressive final quarter that saw over 11 per cent growth, the final figure was still some ways shy of the sales reported in 2008.

The upturn, according to Peddie, was due to "pent up demand" from businesses that had built up during the first part of the recession. New systems with "powerful processors and GPUs" lent a helping hand, with Dell fighting hard to reclaim market share parity with HP that it had lost in the previous quarter.

The reason for this turnaround was Dell going back to basics, and it seems concentrating on pricing and specifications is paying off for Dell. Peddie has singled out the greater attention paid to accounts as what he labels "their original hallmark". It's all the more surprising then, that Dell has been unable to translate this to their consumer unit, which is under siege from Acer.

Further good news came in the shape of an "unexpectedly hot" professional graphics market. That's not a sly reference to Nvidia's stalled Fermi GPU chip, but it's rather a nod to the sales of its Quadro line of workstation graphics cards. As the professional graphics market tracks the workstation systems market pretty closely, a rise in sales and revenue here, reported at over 53 and 41 per cent respectively, is great news for vendors.

While Nvidia has done well lately, Peddie expects that AMD will mount a fight back this quarter. For Nvidia, aside from Fermi, its emphasis on GPU computation is starting to pay dividends, according to Peddie.

Another growth area is in mobile graphics workstations, with Peddie suggesting that next week we should see some "really interesting" announcements from Dell. The tin box maker was unavailable for comment, perhaps celebrating a rare bit of good news in pegging back HP. µ



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