Servers based on the x86 architecture have accounted for more sales revenue than their Unix counterparts for the first time, newly published market research has found.
According to IDC's Western European Quarterly Server Tracker, x86 servers dominated third-quarter 2004 sales across western Europe, enjoying a comfortable 20 per cent year-on-year growth in unit shipments.
However, while Intel-based boxes boomed, Risc systems factory revenue declined by 11.4 per cent in the same period, despite a 9.7 per cent increase in unit shipments.
"For the first time, x86 servers generated more revenue than sales from Risc-based systems in the third quarter," said Nathaniel Martinez, programme manager at IDC's European Server Group.
Overall, the analyst firm found that server sales grew for the fifth consecutive quarter in western Europe, with 4.4 per cent year-on-year revenue growth.
System shipments increased by almost a fifth compared to the quarter a year ago to reach 375,000 units.
In addition, the market success of recently launched x86-64 servers, which support both 32-bit and 64-bit software applications, continued apace.
X86-64 servers recorded 112.1 per cent sequential growth in unit shipments and 65.5 per cent sequential growth in factory revenue.
However, IDC predicts that, while this segment only accounted for approximately five per cent of the overall x86 shipments in the third quarter, sales from this category are expected to accelerate with both AMD Opteron and Intel EM64T processors now available and Windows Server support due in the first half of 2005.
The introduction of x86-64 systems is causing some disruption, adding to a clearer repositioning of Epic systems, which also saw a very good quarter, exceeding 1,000 units shipped quarterly for the third consecutive quarter.
"European organisations are slowly transitioning from corporate refresh projects to strategic large-scale IT infrastructure investments, contributing to the ongoing recovery of the European server market," said Martinez.
He added that growth on the European server market was mainly fuelled by demand in the volume server space, where factory revenue grew by 31.4 per cent year on year, compared to a 9.4 per cent decline for midrange servers and a 17 per cent decline for high-end systems in the same period.
"Recent technology developments, such as server blades, x86-64, virtualisation and dual-core processors, while reshaping the server landscape, should accentuate this positive trend in the near term," said Martinez.
According to the IDC research, IBM retained the number one revenue spot in the western European server market despite slightly under performing against the European average.
In unit terms, HP held on to the number one position, shipping 146,721 units, a 17.5 per cent increase compared to the quarter a year ago.
Sun Microsystems grew factory revenue in line with the overall European server market and grabbed 11.2 per cent revenue share.
Hit by a disadvantageous dollar/euro conversion rate, Fujitsu Siemens had a difficult quarter and saw its factory revenue decline by 5.1 per cent, while Dell continued to outpace the market, recording 35.7 per cent growth in factory revenue.
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