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HPC Site Budget Allocation Map: Economic Sectors

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D., Laura Segervall, Addison Snell
for Intersect360 Research
July 2009

Tabor Research surveyed the High Productivity Computing user community to complete its second Site Budget Allocation Map, a look at how HPC users divide and spend their HPC budgets. We surveyed users on their spending in seven top-level categories: hardware, software, facilities, staffing, services, utility computing, and other. Each category was further divided into constituent subcategories, resulting in 25 unique items included in the analysis.

This second report in the series provides a comparison of the three economic sectors: academia, commercial/industrial, and government. The report compares the industry averages within each category/subcategory by economic sector. The initial report provided an overview of the average budget distribution for all sectors. Forthcoming reports will analyze the data by budget ranges, and estimate the unaccounted for revenue.

We found several key differences as well as similarities between the three economic sectors:

Similarities between economic sectors are:

    At least 75% of the hardware budgets went to servers and storage for all economic sectors.
  • Power consumption was the largest facilities component for all economic sectors. Government spent the greatest share with over half of its facilities budget going towards power consumption.
  • All economic sectors spend 3 to 5 times more on developing their own code than on purchasing third party ISV software.
  • More than 50% of respondents in all economic sectors expected their budgets to grow over the next two years.

Differences between economic sectors are:

  • Over half of the government sites in the survey had production supercomputers or specialized high-end systems installed and therefore spent a larger percent on hardware than academia and commercial sites.
  • Government sites spend more on middleware than other sectors.
  • Commercial/industrial sites spent significantly more on application programmers than academic and government sites.

At the macro level, budgeting patterns between sectors are quite similar; with top-level spend ordering being consistent across all sectors. This is not surprising given the commonality of applications across sectors and the commonality of computational requirements across applications. However, at a micro level, important differences between economic sectors do appear based on goals, missions, and operation characteristics of each sector.

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