TIBURON, CAOctober 29, 2004"The workstation platform is alive and well, though today it bears little resemblance to the expensive, proprietary machines that used to dominate the industry," said Jon Peddie Research (JPR), a leading research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, in a report released this month. According to JPR, "Most workstations shipped today have more in common with desktop PCs than the costly, RISC/Unix machines of old," indicating inevitable loss of revenue for traditional workstation vendors as advanced PCs meet demands of typical workstation users.
The JPR Workstation Report: Professional Computing Markets and Technologies is a semi-annual report that explores and analyzes the technology and market forces shaping today's workstations. With in-depth attention to the major vendors driving the workstation platform, as well as a detailed sizing of the marketplace for both workstations and professional graphics hardware, the JPR Workstation Report provides the broadest in-depth assessment of the workstation industry today.
"The technology used to build workstations has changed dramatically in the last five to ten years," said Alex Herrera, author and senior analyst at Jon Peddie Research. "But the demands of professional applications and users have not. What continues to set a workstation apart from other machines like desktop PCs are incremental hardware and software features that promise the professional user better performance, throughput and reliability with their one or two critical applications," Herrera concluded.
Jon Peddie Research estimates that nearly 830,000 workstations were shipped in the first half of calendar 2004, accounting for roughly $2.2 billion (USD) in worldwide revenue. Of that, the PC-Derived Workstation, a machine that leverages technologies derived fromthough not necessarily identical tothe high-volume PC platform, accounted for roughly 92% of units and 84% of revenue.
In stark contrast, the Traditional Proprietary Workstation marketed by vendors Sun, HP, IBM, and SGI once dominated the landscape, but today continues to lose ground to PC-Derived Workstations, due to the latter's pronounced competitive advantage in price and price/performance, continuing acceptance of Windows in professional markets, and Linux's continued emergence as a viable alternative to not only Windows but proprietary Unix as well.
Professional graphics hardware is one of the key differentiators for the workstation platform. IHVs such as Nvidia, ATI, 3Dlabs, and Matrox shipped approximately 1.1 million units of professional graphics Add-in Boards (AIBs) in the first half of 2004, accounting for roughly $415 million (USD) in revenue.