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According to data from research firm Jon Peddie Research, the year 2005 was very good for workstation systems market as well as companies who serve it. The primary winners were Dell, HP, Intel and Nvidia, however, producers of RISC/Unix workstations as well as 3Dlabs, a maker of professional graphics accelerators, saw their shipments declining.

Workstation Market – 2.1 Million Systems Per Year

Workstation vendors shipped roughly 2.089 million units in 2005, up 22.6% from 2004. Revenue hit $5.3 billion for an 18.4% gain, according to JPR. The got boosted significantly from the mobile workstation segment, which remains growing at a 72% per annum.

The market is benefiting from higher IT budgets allowing system replacements to catch up with newer technologies, such as dual-core, 64-bit and next-generation graphics. That allowed average selling prices (ASPs) for x86 based workstations to improve slightly while ASPs for traditional (RISC/Unix) platforms fell at a much slower rate than previous years.

AMD Grabs 2.6% Workstation Market Share

Dell continues to dominate the workstation market with a share of about 39% in Q4 2005, down from 46% in Q1. HP follows with 27% and has steadily closed the gap with Dell in recent quarters. Lenovo, IBM, Fujitsu-Siemens and Sun round out the top six.

At least in part, HP can credit its support of AMD’s Opteron, which slowly but surely is stealing share from Intel’s Xeon as well as legacy RISC/Unix platforms. With Opteron’s 2.6% market share (units), AMD is still dwarfed by Intel, Dell’s only supplier, but the trendlines are clearly in AMD’s favor. Nevertheless, an analyst from JPR claims that once Intel launches highly-competitive processors and platforms, the situation may change for AMD.

“If you extrapolate Opteron’s better near 350% growth rate, then AMD is in the teens in a couple of years and putting a big dent in Intel’s share,” said Alex Herrera, JPR senior analyst and Workstation Report author. “But in 2006, with the new Woodcrest processor and Glidewell platform promising dramatically improved system bandwidth, Intel should dramatically close the performance gap with Opteron, especially in dual-socket applications”.

ATI, Nvidia Gain, 3Dlabs Looses

Nvidia continues to dominate the professional graphics market, which in 2005 saw 2.8 million total units (including mobile) and $909 million in revenue (add-in card only), both up substantially from 2004. Nvidia shipped 70% of units, but more significantly thanks to its attention to the high-end segments, the company has grown its share of revenue to a commanding 79%, JPR claims.

ATI has increased its unit share over the past two years, now up to 23%, while Matrox Graphics and 3DLabs have seen their shares decline. 3DLabs market share drop to just 2% overall was particularly painful, no doubt leading to its departure from the market earlier this year.

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