others. As a result, large computer manufacturers have to develop systems that perform well on a very broad range of problems. This maximizes the potential return on investment when developing a product but has the unfortunate effect of delivering suboptimal performance to the different end users.

Figures 6.2 and 6.3 show the evolution of the worldwide technical computing market from 1998 to 2003. They indicate that the overall size of the market is about $5 billion, with less than $1 billion being spent on capability systems. The market exhibits significant fluctuations; the capability segment has been moving 10 or 20 percent up or down almost every year. Supercomputing vendors are hampered both by the small size of the high-end market and by the large year-to-year variations. The charts also indicate the significant impact of public acquisitions on this market—over 50 percent of the HPC market is in the public sector, as is over 80 percent of the capability market. Public sector purchases are very volatile, with large changes from year to year.

Industrial use is changing, and for reasons of competitive advantage, that industrial use is often not revealed. In fact, the ability of small groups

FIGURE 6.2 Worldwide HPC market. SOURCE: Earl Joseph, Program Vice President, High-Performance Systems, IDC; e-mail exchanges, phone conversations, and in-person briefings from December 2003 to October 2004.

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