Lacklustre revenue results are expected for the high-performance computer market in 1998, with worldwide annual growth of just 4.2 per cent, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
The market, which IDC put at $US5.2 billion at the close of last year, was strongly influenced by sluggish sales at Silicon Graphics (SGI) the company said.
"Other variables included the economy in Asia, Japanese supercomputer tariffs, the visibility of new products from Compaq, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, a product vacuum at the high end and general buyer wariness," IDC analyst Debra Goldfarb said in a statement.
A major trend impacting the market for high-performance computers is the "homogenisation of hardware," highlighted by system suppliers that "rarely differentiate features between technical computing offerings and those targeted for the commercial marketplace," IDC said.
"This strategy moves the buying criteria away from performance and product specialisation, and toward a total solutions approach, where price, applications availability and service/support govern the purchasing decision," Goldfarb said. "One of the potential long-term implications of this market shift is that vendors may miss major technological innovation cycles in their desire to control [research and development] costs and serve the mass market."
IDC said the market is expected to pick up over the next six to 12 months because of product initiatives from SGI, HP, Compaq and IBM. The research firm added that the high-performance midrange and technical server segments are expected to drive the majority of sales.