ForPrimeur Magazinethis is Ad Emmen reporting from ISC 15 in Frankfurt. We are talking with Earl Joseph from IDC who presented some interesting findings about the HPC market and also about the report to the European Commission. Can you please start with highlighting a little bit the highlights presented at ISC 15 about the market in general?
Earl Joseph:The HPC market is back into a growth mode. Especially in the first quarter of this year, it appears to be growing at least 10%. We have seen some very substantial increases in various parts of the market, for instance the financial sector is growing much faster than we expected, and we are actually restating our historical numbers to show that growth in the financial sector. The other sector where we saw the largest growth rate is a combination of Big Data and high-performance computing, we call that HPDA or High-Performance Data Analytics, and that is the highest growing sector at the moment.
Primeur:So the financial market is growing very strongly?
Earl Joseph:Yes, the financial market is growing very strongly. And it is growing strongly in some new areas also. The traditional areas, trading, analysis of options and so on, is growing well, but there is a whole new set of services that financial companies are developing for the broader market. Some of those you will be seeing today but many of them are invisible. They will show up on your phone or your PC, the Internet and all that, so a tremendous amount of new services is coming up. Another part of this is security. Many people reported about security breaches over the past few years. So the organisations are developing very sophisticated ways to handle security breaches.
Primeur Magazine:I think that are the most important highlights. You also announced that you published a report for the European Commission about the HPC strategy that the EC developed and that IDC evaluated. Can you tell a little bit about that?
Earl Joseph:The European Commission hired us to do an assessment of the recommendations and plans that were put in during the last couple of years for Horizon 2020. In addition to that, they wanted to know what more needs to be done in changes, and also an assessment of that. Our assessment was that tremendous progress has been made. Europe, about five to seven years ago, was falling behind the rest of the world. Due to the investments in many of the nations across Europe, the HPC market in Europe is now as robust as it was historically, roughly 30% of the world market. In addition to that, IDC is recommending that Europe would launch two exascale initiatives. Where in 2020, there will be something maybe of a quarter or a half of exascale machine, what actually would be two of them, and by 2022, there will be actually two final exascale machines.
Primeur Magazine:Could you say that Europe has been catching up? What do they need to do in your vision to keep on track?
Earl Joseph:First, they have to buy a lot of machines. Because to service all the scientists, engineers and researchers all around Europe you do need a lot of systems. But then the second step is that it is really about the software and software applications. Many of the applications were written many years ago and do not perform well on multi-core processors, but in particular they will perform very poorly on exascale systems. So the biggest thing Europe has to do and also the rest of the world is to redesign the applications to perform well in the new type of hardware.
Primeur Magazine:Is it also important to develop new hardware?
Earl Joseph:In our original recommendations three years ago we recommended that Europe does not invest much in hardware. And the reason for that is that every hardware programme we ever saw ended up in expanding and taking all the software dollars away from the software. Today, it is a different environment, because of ARM processors where Europe is very strong in and some targeted hardware developments, we now recommend that Europe does address some hardware developments in the exascale arena which is very important. On the software side, we always recommend major investments because Europe is so good in software and has a lot of leadership areas and can leverage that very well.
Primeur Magazine:That is great to hear. The European Commission itself is doing things in addition to do what the nations do in Europe. Did you also have a look at what nations in Europe are doing? Or did you only focus on the European aspect?
Earl Joseph:If anyone wants the report, these are IDC recommendations, not what the EU has decided to do. The recommendations will first go through the Commission and in the end they will decide what to do. But in the report we do evaluate all the countries of Europe individually, look at those who have invested heavily and those that need to do more. And in many cases, the smaller nations need to work more in partnership with the larger ones to be able to get access to the larger systems. The whole report is a recommendation by nation.
Primeur Magazine:The industry landscape is changing continuously. Some companies stay the same, some merge, or are taken over. What is your idea about that?
Earl Joseph:Right now we are going through many changes in market shares and vendors and a whole landscape, the biggest change is that for the last 10 years HP and IBM have been closely tied as market leaders around 30%, and then the second-tier was Dell with 15% on number 3 and then a lot of small players. That has now entirely changed. On January 1st this year the Lenovo/IBM arrangement has become official. Right now HP is market leader. They have about a third of the market, and then it drops quickly to companies that have about 15% of the market and that is entered as Dell and Lenovo, and Dell was doing very well last year. Then it goes down dramatically. IBM's share last year was of the order of 5%, so that is a dramatic change in the industry, and then other vendors like Cray are gaining a lot of market share and the Chinese vendors are doing extremely well right now. Most of the Chinese vendors are now expanding into Europe and other regions of the world.
Primeur Magazine:We also have some big vendors in Europe like Atos/Bull that say they will aim for the exaflop machine together with CEA. Some other companies are active as well. What is your opinion about the European hardware industry?
Earl Joseph:The European hardware industry is doing extremely well these days. Atos/Bull as you mentioned have an exascale programme. They work closely with CEA, and they made some very positive progress. In particular in the UK, they have got some very good sales successes. A lot of other hardware companies, like for instance ARM initiatives, are everywhere. The Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, with their ARM project is being watched by everyone around the world, because people are very excited about that. So, we see the revitalization of the European hardware industry right now.
So, one thing in closing, I would really like to thank all the organisers of ISC, because I find this is one of the greatest environments to learn, and we learned a tremendous amount of information this week, about the vendors, new products, about what users are doing. The industry is changing so much right now we really need events like this to learn and share ideas and to help a stronger industry.
Primeur Magazine:Thanks for the interview.