Workstation and professional GPU markets march onward and upward in Q4’13

2013 proved to be a good year for the tandem markets for workstations and professional GPUs.In the fourth quarter, the market continued onward and upward, holding on to the substantial gains of the previous two quarters, closing out a healthy 2013.

Worldwide, the industry shipped approximately 971.6 thousand workstations in the fourth quarter of 2013, essentially flat (-0.2%) from Q3'13 and up 4.0% from the same quarter the year prior. That figure nearly eclipsed the record 1.0 million units the market set back in 2011. Given the quarter was sequentially flat, but exhibited respectable year-over-year (YoY) growth rate (4.0%), we're labeling Q4'13 as another positive quarter in the market's steady, albeit unhurried, journey forward.

2013 marked a return to "normalcy"

With growth coming in at a modest but healthy 3% (units), 2013 was the first year since 2007 that the global workstation market behaved more according to historical norms, finally removed from the tumultuous period of 2008 - 2012. Like virtually every other market, workstations suffered through the global recession at the tail end of 2008 and through 2009. Conversely, 2010 and 2011 saw uncharacteristically hot — but unsustainable — growth as the market rebounded. 2012 appeared to pay for that exuberance, seeing a modest decline while the markets appeared to "digest" previous years' indulgence.

We may very well look back at 2013 as the year the workstation and PC markets went their separate ways. For years, as workstations adopted PC technology, and as both platforms were viewed as primary — and indispensable — computing devices, the two markets tended to behave as mirror images. But as alternative computing devices like tablets and smartphones have taken hold to challenge PCs, especially in consumer markets, 2013 changed that paradigm ... such devices pose no serious threat to workstations, and the two markets are no longer marching in unison.

Tier 1 OEMs in Q4'13: market shares generally stable ... but Dell is making some progress

The market shares of the four Tier 1 OEMs proved generally stable in the fourth quarter of 2013. With 39.9% of units sold (flat from Q1), HP continues to dominate the workstation market, with #2 Dell at 32.5%. Lenovo and Fujitsu shipped 12.9% and 3.9% of units to round out the "big four".

If there was any vendor making a move worth noting in Q4'13, it was Dell. After a long decline, particularly in the 2009 - 2011 period, Dell made a very conscious decision to recommit itself to the workstation marketplace. And while recently quarterly results aren't chart-busting, by any stretch, they have decidedly turned in the company's favor. The fourth quarter continued to show modest-but-measurable improvement in Dell's unit share, jumping another 1.3 point.

Professional graphics market stays on growth path as well

The industry, composed almost exclusively of the Nvidia/AMD duopoly, shipped around 1.3 million workstation-caliber GPUs in the third quarter, including both mobile modules and deskside add-in cards. Volume represented a year-over-year gain of 10.3%.

For the full calendar year 2013, about 4.9 million professional-branded graphics hardware units were sold (including mobile units), representing 9.6% growth relative to 2012. Perhaps the highlight of 2013 was the strength of ASPs, putting revenue at even healthier levels in 2013 than unit volume.

  • Methodology
    • Some – but not all - white-box coverage
    • Navigating to new content: bold PDF bookmarks and yellow highlighted headings
    • Effective Q3'11, Lenovo inherits NEC workstation share
  • Workstations markets holds onto gains in Q4'13
    • Workstation ASPs and revenue
    • Workstation shares by machine class
      • The workstation market is — and will likely remain — the domain of the deskside
        • Tier 1 OEMs in Q4'13: market shares generally stable...but Dell is making progress
        • Vendor penetration by market segment
        • Apple's MacPro
    • Today, Intel stands virtually alone as CPU supplier to the workstation industry …
    • AMD is tipping its CPU toes back in workstation waters
      • Single versus multi-socket CPU
    • Windows dominates, with Linux holding minority share
    • Tier 1 distribution of workstations by geography
      • Dell retakes U.S. leadership from HP .. will it last?
      • EMEA in Q4'13 the healthiest it's been for awhile
      • APexJ has been the high-growth region ... particularly for Lenovo
      • "Local" " suppliers Fujitsu and NEC making gains in Japan
      • EMEA and APexJ: breakdowns by sub-region
  • Full-year calendar 2013 results for workstations
  • Professional graphics hardware maintains growth in Q4'13
    • ASPs appear remarkably strong
    • The Nvidia vs. AMD battle now in flux ... though not very evident in Q4'13
      • Mobile GPU shipments fluctuate, but time-averaged run-rate generally unchanged
      • Entry class professional graphics add-in cards take lion's share of volume .. .and Nvidia
        takes lion's share of Entry volume
      • Mid-range and High End swells, thanks in part to Mac Pro's inclusion of AMD FirePro 37
        • The 2D segment chugs on
    • Full-year calendar 2013 results for professional graphics hardware
    • Outlook on the workstation and professional graphics markets
    • Appendix A: Workstation vendor shares per EMEA sub-region

Tables and figures

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



  • 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 by more than 3:1\
  • Figure 4 HP in firm control of the workstation market, while upstart Lenovo has some room to grow
  • 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 Intel shipments into Tier 1 workstation market by processor (unit share of Intel platform by processor)
  • Figure 9 The rise and fall of Opteron in the workstation platform
  • Figure 10 Share of dual-capable (not necessarily dual-populated) workstations as a percentage of all deskbound systems
  • Figure 11 Geographic distribution (by unit shipments) over time
  • Figure 12 Tier 1 vendor shares of U.S. over time
  • Figure 13 Tier 1 vendor shares of EMEA over
  • Figure 14 Tier 1 vendor shares of Asia/Pac (excluding Japan) over time
  • Figure 15 Tier 1 vendor shares of Japan region
  • Figure 16 Tier 1 vendor shares of Rest of World (ROW) region over time
  • Figure 17 CEE and MEA represent the growth opportunities in EMEA
  • Figure 18 EMEA breakdown by sub-region
  • Figure 19 Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) breakdown by sub-region
  • Figure 20 China sub-region, breakout by vendor
  • Figure 21 India sub-region, breakout by vendor
  • Figure 22 Rest of APexJ sub-region, breakout by vendor
  • Figure 23 Overall yearly workstation unit share by vendor
  • Figure 24 Worldwide shipments of professional graphics (K units, including mobiles)
  • Figure 25 Professional graphics card ASPs, by class over time
  • Figure 26 Professional graphics unit share history, by class
  • Figure 27 Professional graphics units, by market segment
  • Figure 28 2D in decline and mobiles flat, as 3D cards take the lion's share of market growth
  • Figure 29 Professional graphics add-in card revenue
  • Figure 31 Vendor unit share history: mobile professional graphics segment
  • Figure 32 Vendor unit share history: professional 2D add-in card segment
  • Figure 33 Vendor unit share history: mid-range 3D add-in card segment
  • Figure 34 Vendor unit share history: entry 3D add-in card segment
  • Figure 35 Vendor shares of combined High+Ultra-high professional segment over time
  • Figure 36 Workstation market forecast 2013 - 2017(units)
  • Figure 37 Workstation market revenue forecast 2013 - 2017