Shipments of servers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) fell by four percent in the third quarter of 2014 but revenues rose by 1.2 percent year on year to amount to $2.9 million.
Gartner said that growth seen in the second quarter of this year was “a short lived phenomenon and marginal revenue growth…highlights the fragility of demand”.
But despite this, revenues grew for the third consecutive quarter following 10 previous quarters where revenues declined.
HP managed to grow its revenue lead in the regions with 6.4 percent growth, although shipments declined by 8.2 percent. The growth was largely accounted for by demand for rack optimised and blade system.
Dell managed to displace IBM as second in place in terms of both revenues and shipments. It managed to grow nine percent in revenues and 3.4 percent in shipments. IBM, of course, is ridding itself of its X86 business to Lenovo, while its RISC shipments were hit by a fall in demand for Unix systems. Its lucrative mainframe business is in stasis as Big Blue readies new launches.
Gartner thinks one of the problems is that IT departments in enterprises are struggling because there are datacentre modernisation initiatives which means they are taking their eyes off the ball in the traditional server marketplace.
If RISC, the Intel Itanium and Unix revenues are counted as one, they fell in the quarter by 13.2 percent.
For years, ARM and Intel have been snarling at each other that each other’s chips are more power efficient. ARM has claimed that the reason it was more power efficient thanks to fundamental differences in the ISA (instruction set architecture).
As we reported earlier this week, however, Intel is one of ARM’s biggest fans.
ARM uses RISC and Intel’s x86 uses CISC. ARM says that makes a big difference. However a team from the University of Wisconsin has been looking at the two architectures RISC and CISC and thinks that ARM might be wrong and that ISA is less important.
Their new research paper, which was reviewed in detail by Extreme Tech examines these claims using a variety of ARM cores as well as a Loongson MIPS microprocessor, Intel’s Atom and Sandy Bridge microarchitectures, and AMD’s Bobcat.
The report suggests that ISA can matter in certain, extremely specific cases where die sizes must be 1-2mm2 or power consumption is specced to sub-milliwatt levels. At those rare times, RISC microcontrollers can still have an advantage over their CISC brethren.
But the report suggests that those who claim RISC still has enormous benefits over x86 at higher performance levels are ignoring the fact that RISC and CISC describe design strategies and which fixed technological limitations of years ago and are not important today.
The report said that in the good old days RISC chips could run at significantly higher clocks than their CISC counterparts thanks to reduced complexity, but that’s no longer true.
Now it is process technology controls clock speed, not one’s choice of RISC vs. CISC. Today a Core i7 and Cortex-A57 have far more in common due to decades of experience have led designers to adopt strategies and structures that work, even if the underlying ISA is different.
They concluded that the RISC vs. CISC argument should be cast into the dustbin of history even if it still has some relevance in the microcontroller realm. Basically an x86 chip can be more power efficient than an ARM processor, or vice versa but it has nothing to do with the instruction set.
A report from IDC said EMEA server revenues showed a slight uptick in the first quarter of this year – up 1.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
The EMEA server market generated $2.8 billion in the first quarter – that’s $44 million more than the same quarter in 2013 and amounting to 537,800 units. That’s 22,000 units less than in 2013 and that’s because virtualisation and integrated systems are making their mark.
IDC said that there’s a negative trend in the market amounting to a 20.3 percent decrease in vendor revenues when you compare the 4th quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of this year.
“Despite a strong push for additional capacity in megadatacentre customers and renewed focus on tower and rack volumes by the largest OEMs, the macro trend in the X86 market continues to point to value as the only real growth opportunity,” said Giorio Nebuloni, research manager for enterprise servers at IDC Europe.
He said the blade market shows strong growth in the higher end market with higher aversage selling prices.
The X86 server market accounted for $1.72 billion in Q1 – that’s 81 percent of total values. Non X86 vendors generated $541 million, amounting to 3,810 units in EMEA. This bit of the market is showing a decline.
The top dogs in the EMEA region were HP, IBM, Dell, Fujitsu, Oracle and the ubiquitous “others” – as this IDC chart demonstrates.
Worldwide shipments of servers only grew 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year, but revenues fell 2.1 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Big Blue fared particularly badly.
That’s according to the Gartner Group, which said that the worldwide server market is continuing to show weak performance.
There were some bright spots – the Canadian market grew by 6.5 percent, EMEA by 12.1 percent. But the US only showed 0.9 percent growth.
On the X86 server front, units grew by only 2.1 percent year on year but 4.4 percent in revenue. RISC, Itanium and Unix servers fell by 4.5 percent in shipments and 31 percent in revenues.
HP is king of the worldwide server castle, folllowed by IBM, Dell, Cisco and Oracle.
Blade servers fell by 1.5 percent in shipments while racks grew by 2.6 percent in shipments but fell by 1.8 percent in revenues.
Europe fared badly overall, with revenues down 4.3 percent compared to the same quarter.
Gartner analyst Adrian O’Connell said: “Ther performance of server shipments and revenue in EMEA is in a downward spiral. Revenue has now declined for nine consecutive quarters and shipments have declined for eight.”
He said server revenues across EMEA is at its lowest level for over 15 years.
IBM fared particulalry badly, seeing its revenues fall by 19.2 percent. O’Connell said that the EMEA market is “resetting itself” for vendors that relied on high end platforms. He said the fourth quarter is also expected to be weak.
The EMEA server market seems unable to regain its footing. Following several consecutive quarters of lacklustre results, the negative trend seems set to continue, according to the latest IDC figures.
Revenue dropped 10.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 year-on-year. Shipments also dropped by 5.7 percent, to 520,000 units. This is the sixth quarter in the red and the market has been contracting since the fourth quarter of 2011.
IDC EMEA Enterprise Server Group research manager Giorgio Nebuloni said yearly revenue declined by more than 40 percent.
“Part of the spending intended to keep core business applications running is now absorbed by new integrated system offerings combining x86 and lower-end RISC/EPIC blades with storage and networking back-ends,” Nebuloni said.
The non-x86 market was especially hard hit, with a revenue decline of 34.8 percent. Revenues generated by x86 server dropped by 1.5 percent. Demand for x86 servers in developed European economies is flat, while demand for non-x86 gear is plummeting.
“RISC sales were particularly hit, down by 49.8% year on year, whereas mainframe revenue suffered single-digit declines of 4.8%” said IDC EMEA Enterprise Server Group senior research analyst Beatriz Valle. “Big organisations in the corporate space and government are consolidating existing infrastructure using high-end x86 servers, with demand for legacy architectures at an all time low.”
Demand is evaporating in the CEMA region as well, with a third consecutive drop in the first quarter. Shipments were down 9.7 percent, although some positive trends were seen in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile the share of modular server shipments increased from 19.9 percent to 22.7 percent in the first quarter of the year. The growth was driven by the increasing popularity of density optimised servers in the HPC area.