Workstations continue to outperform PCs in Q4’15

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The workstation proved once again it is not slave to the same market forces dragging down the  broader PC markets. Where industry reports indicate double-digit percentage decline in PC shipments in 2015, the workstation market fell only 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2015 (year over year), and about the same for 2015 overall. All told, the industry shipped around 1.04 million units in Q4'15.

Why would two sister platforms experience such different market dynamics? PC and workstation products are built off much of the same core technologies, but the workstation is designed and built with different priorities in mind: maximum reliability and application-optimized performance for high-demand, visual applications. Many mainstream PC users have found their primary applications still run fine on machines three or more years old — or even run acceptably on phones or tablets — so there's little motivation to pay for a new one. But the same is not at all true for users in areas like CAD, digital media and entertainment, geoscience, and finance. These buyers need and value the return a new, higher-performance machine can provide in increased productivity.

HP stiffens its hold on the top spot

Market shares for the big three workstation OEMs — HP, Dell and Lenovo — don't tend to fluctuate a great deal quarter to quarter. In the big picture, however, there had been a couple of notable stories over the past few years: Lenovo climbing slowly but steadily, and Dell stabilizing after a long decline at the hands of HP. With a seemingly clearer focus and more precise execution in wake of its privatization, Dell's workstation business had not only successfully stopped the decline, it had been managing to pull back a bit of share over time, from a low of 30.7% up to 35.9% in Q3'15.
HP threw a damper on Dell's comeback run in the fourth quarter, however, tacking on 1.5 points while Dell's dropped by over two. Also impeding Dell's progress was Lenovo, which added 1.2 points to post its  highest ever worldwide share of 15.1%. Fujitsu contributed another 2.9% in the quarter, while a host of smaller players accounted for the remaining 9.5%.
 

  • Methodology
    • Some – but not all - white-box coverage
    • Navigating to new content: bold PDF bookmarks and yellow highlighted headings
  •  Workstation market sticks to the right script in Q4'15
    • Workstation ASPs and revenue
    • Workstation shares by machine class
      • The workstation market remanins dominated by the deskside
        • NEW for Q4'15: Workstation market by vertical
        • HP throws a damper on Dell's comeback run in Q4'15
        • Vendor penetration by market segment
  • Apple's MacPro
  • Estimating Mac Pro shipments: the expected surge at launch, followed by a decline, and now starting to settle out
  • Today, Intel stands virtually alone as CPU supplier to the workstation industry
    • Intel's push of Xeon brand into single-socket, entery-class workstations paying off
    • AMD's traveled a winding road in workstations, one that led to an absence in CPUs
    • A future for AMD workstations with APUs? Zen?
    • Single vs. multi-socket CPU
  • Windows dominates, with Linux holding minority share
  • Tier 1 distribution of workstations by geography
    • HP's gain at Dell's expense came primarily in the U.S. and APexJ
    • No significant vendor shake-up in EMEA in Q4'15 
    • Dell and HP swap positions in APexJ, while Lenovo climbs again 
    • Japan dominated by HP, Dell and NEC 
    • ROW vendor breakdown similar to that of the U.S
    • EMEA and APexJ: breakdowns by sub-region
    • China remains the primary engine for APexJ growth, with Lenovo the primary beneficiary
  • Full-year calendar 2015 results for workstations
  • Professional GPU market holds its ground in Q4'15
    • Discrete workstation GPU ASPs firm
    • Nvidia dominates, but AMD gains some ground in Q4'15 
    • Estimating FirePro shipments to Apple
  • Professional graphics hardware market breakdown by product class
    • The big-picture trend: 2D down, 3D up and mobiles (mostly) flat
    • 2D cards losing their traditional application base, but they do have another, growing, market segment to lean on
    • High-end and mid-range contribute 75% of add-in card revenue
    • Nvidia maintains dominant hold on 2D, Entry 3D and mobile segments
  • Full-year calendar 2015 results for professional graphics hardware
  • NEW for Q4'15: Integrated vs. discrete GPUs in workstations 
  • Appendix A: Workstation vendor shares per EMEA sub-region

Tables and figures

Tables

  • Table 1 Total workstation market revenue (in $M)
  • Table 2 Q4'15 characteristics of desktop workstation classes
  • Table 3 History of workstation unit share by vendor 
  • Table 4 Historical share of Windows and Linux in x86 based workstations (Apple platforms not included) 
  • Table 5 Total workstations shipped by year (units and revenue)
  • Table 6 Yearly workstation ASPs (in dollars) 
  • Table 7 Growth (loss) of Tier 1 vendors’ unit shares 
  • Table 8 Worldwide shipments of professional graphics (K units, including mobiles) 
  • Table 10 Where Apple's new FirePro SKUs stack up against existing "Southern Islands" SKUs 
  • Table 9 Worldwide quarterly revenue of professional graphics add-in cards ($M, no mobiles) 
  • Table 11 Professional graphics market share history by vendor (units) 
  • Table 12 Professional graphics add-in card (no mobiles) revenue history by vendor
  • Table 13 Professional graphics hardware classes and price bands 
  • Table 14 Professional graphics hardware, yearly totals 
  • Table 15 Professional graphics add-in card ASPs, yearly 

Figures

  • Figure 1 Workstation ASPs over time
  • Figure 2 History of overall workstation unit distribution, by class 
  • Figure 3 Unlike broader PC market, deskbound workstations outsell mobiles (on average) by almost 3:1 
  • Figure 4 Dell stabilized, then took back some share lost to HP .. but lately, positions for the two relatively stable 
  • Figure 5 Shares of mobile workstation units, by vendor 
  • Figure 6 Shares of Entry class workstation units, by vendor 
  • Figure 7 Shares of Mid-range workstation units, by vendor 
  • Figure 8 Estimated and hypothetical share of Apple in Windows/Linux/OS-X deskside workstation market
  • Figure 9 Intel shipments into Tier 1 workstation market by processor (unit share of Intel platform by processor) 
  • Figure 10 The rise and fall of Opteron in the workstation platform
  • Figure 11 Share of dual-capable (though not necessarily dual-populated) workstations as a percentage of all deskbound systems 
  • Figure 12 While the share of 2S-capable workstations is in decline, the 2nd CPU attach rate is relatively stable
  • Figure 13 Geographic distribution (by unit shipments) over time 
  • Figure 14 Tier 1 vendor shares of U.S. over time
  • Figure 15 Tier 1 vendor shares of EMEA over time
  • Figure 16 Tier 1 vendor shares of Asia/Pac (excluding Japan) over time 
  • Figure 17 Tier 1 vendor shares of Japan region time 
  • Figure 18 Tier 1 vendor shares of Rest of World (ROW) region over time 
  • Figure 19 EMEA breakdown by sub-region 
  • Figure 20 Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) breakdown by sub-region 
  • Figure 21 China sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 22 India sub-region, breakout by vendor
  • Figure 23 Rest of APexJ sub-region, breakout by vendor
  • Figure 24 Overall yearly workstation unit share by vendor
  • Figure 25 Worldwide shipments of professional graphics (K units, including mobiles)
  • Figure 26 Professional graphics card ASPs, by vendor over time 
  • Figure 27 Professional graphics units, by segment
  • Figure 28 AMD's mix of FirePro GPU products over time 
  • Figure 29 Estimated share of professional graphics units shipping in "Winux" workstations 
  • Figure 30 2D in slow decline and mobiles (mostly) flat, as 3D cards have taken the lion's share of market growth over the past several years 
  • Figure 31 Professional graphics add-in card revenue 
  • Figure 32 Vendor unit share history: mid-range 3D add-in card segment
  • Figure 33 Vendor shares of combined High + Ultra-high professional segment over time 
  • Figure 34 Vendor unit share history: mobile professional graphics segment
  • Figure 35 Vendor unit share history: Entry 3D add-in card segment 
  • Figure 37 Vendor unit share history: professional 2D add-in card segment 
  • Figure 38 Workstation market forecast 2013 - 2018 (units) 
  • Figure 39 Workstation market revenue forecast 2013 - 2018 ($)
  • Figure 40 Germany sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 41 UK/Ireland sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 42 Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 43 Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden) sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 44 Italy sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 45 Alps (Switzerland, Austria) sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 46 France sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 47 BeNeLux sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 48 Iberia (Spain, Portugal) sub-region, breakout by vendor 
  • Figure 49 Middle East and Africa (MEA) sub-region, breakout by vendor
  • Figure 50 Greece sub-region, breakout by vendor