With Cray buy, HPE rules but does not own the supercomputing market

In buying supercomputer vendor Cray, HPE has strengthened its high-performance-computing technology, but serious competitors remain.

The Cray XC30 'Piz Daint' system at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre
Cray Inc.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise was already the leader in the high-performance computing (HPC) sector before its announced acquisition of supercomputer maker Cray earlier this month. Now it has a commanding lead, but there are still competitors to the giant.

The news that HPE would shell out $1.3 billion to buy the company came just as Cray had announced plans to build three of the biggest systems yet — all exascale, and all with the same deployment time of 2021.

Sales had been slowing for HPC systems, but our government, with its endless supply of money, came to the rescue, throwing hundreds of millions at Cray for systems to be built at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

And HPE sees a big revenue opportunity in HPC, a market that was $2 billion in 1990 and now nearly $30 billion, according to Steve Conway, senior vice president with Hyperion Research, which follows the HPC market. HPE thinks the HPC market will grow to $35 billion by 2021, and it hopes to earn a big chunk of that pie.

“They were solidly in the lead without Cray. They were already in a significant lead over the No. 2 company, Dell. This adds to their lead and gives them access to very high end of market, especially government supercomputers that sell for $300 million to $600 million each,” said Conway.

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