New Battle Lines Emerge in Push for Higher-Performance Computing Solutions

  • Chris Drake
    C. Drake

    The combined growth of IoT, big data, and AI will drive demand for higher-performance computing solutions over the next five years.

  • As IT infrastructure vendors and cloud service providers respond, this will contribute to an increasingly vibrant and competitive market.

Despite the disruption to IT projects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, IT infrastructure vendors and cloud service providers alike remain upbeat about future enterprise demand for new, more powerful computer processing capabilities. These include servers for artificial intelligence (AI) workloads, high-performance computing (HPC) servers, and supercomputing.

In recent months, international server vendors such as Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Inspur, and Lenovo have all announced portfolio additions and enhancements, which include equipping existing server platforms with the latest processors, hardware accelerators, and other innovations, to ensure maximum support for the most demanding, compute-intensive workloads.  Growing demand for more powerful processors is also driving competition among chip manufacturers, including Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA.  NVIDIA is making a multi-pronged attack to become a major player in the enterprise IT market, starting at the very high end.

These investments reflect the expectation that enterprise workloads will undergo considerable transformation over the next few years – requiring faster data processing speeds and more robust compute and storage capabilities.  Key to this transformation will be the emergence of applications across a multitude of industries which leverage AI, ultra-high definition content, and large volumes of digital data.

Alongside the emergence of new, compute-intensive applications, the industry will see a strong focus on more flexible ways of consuming IT solutions, including the use of as-a-service consumption models.  Although as-a-service and subscription-based IT consumption will not replace traditional purchase/own/operate models, they will be popular among enterprises for which traditional models remain prohibitive.  GlobalData expects flexible consumption businesses such as HPE GreenLake, Dell Flex on Demand, and Lenovo TruScale Infrastructure Services to become an important means by which server vendors will drive future adoption of AI and HPC servers, extend their research into new market segments, and compete against the hyperscale cloud providers.

For their part, the hyperscalers have been strengthening their own ability to offer HPC and supercomputing as a service.  In June 2021, Microsoft announced the general availability of its new cloud supercompute offering for AI and HPC workloads, powered by NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs.  Microsoft Azure joins Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Oracle, which all launched NVIDIA A100-based cloud services between September 2020 and March 2021.

Going forward, GlobalData predicts that a confluence of developments – including growing volumes of data generated by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and the emergence of new content- and data-rich applications, some of which incorporate the use of AI – is going to drive demand for higher-performance computing solutions over the next five years.  This will contribute to an increasingly vibrant and competitive market for AI and HPC servers.

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