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Server shipments boom in 2003

The server market surged last year, with shipments growing 25 percent in the final quarter, according to preliminary findings from research company Gartner.

The server market surged in 2003, with shipments growing 25 percent in the last quarter, according to a report released Wednesday.

"The worldwide server market closed 2003 with a bang," research company Gartner said in a report about its preliminary findings. Server shipments increased from 1.28 million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 1.59 million in the fourth quarter of 2003, Gartner said.

For the entire year, server shipments grew 20 percent, Gartner said.

The server market has been gloomy since the end of the Internet mania in 2000. Although unit shipments never stopped growing, revenue from those sales shrank as fierce competition unleashed deep discounts. A bruised technology industry is starting to take heart with rosier projections, though.

Measured by units shipped, Hewlett-Packard remained the leader with 462,000 for the quarter, Gartner said. Dell was No. 2 with 319,000, IBM was No. 3 at 274,000 and Sun Microsystems was No. 4 with 84,000.

But a different ranking emerges when measured by growth compared to the same quarter of 2002. By that measurement, IBM was tops, with 39 percent growth, Sun was second with 33 percent, Dell was third with 30 percent, and HP was fourth with 21 percent.

The top four companies account for about 71 percent of the units shipped.

Gartner didn't release revenue figures, which provide a more complete view of the market. Many models, such as mainframes or Unix servers with dozens of processors and many gigabytes of memory, cost much more than $1 million.

Most shipments, though, are of vastly less expensive models with two Intel processors. Of the 1.59 million servers shipped, 1.45 million, or 91 percent, used 32-bit processors from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices, Gartner said.

Measured by revenue in earlier quarters, IBM has led the market, followed by HP, Sun and Dell.