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HPC Budget Allocation Map: Industry Averages

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D. Addison Snell Laura Segervall
for Intersect360 Research
March 2012

Intersect360 Research surveyed the High Performance Computing user community to complete its fourth Site Budget Allocation Map, a look at how HPC sites divide and spend their 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 report contains the key data, along with analysis, conclusions, and guidance.

This report provides the average budget distribution for the responding sites within each category and provides a view of the entire HPC budget distribution and IT product spending (excluding facilities and staffing).

Important statistical highlights from this study include:

  • Hardware remains the largest category even as its share decreases each year. The average HPC site spent 36% of its HPC budget on hardware this year. Servers lead spending in this category, followed by storage and clients.
  • Staffing continued as the second-largest overall expense. System management and operations combined with maintenance personnel accounted for 56% of the staffing budget.
  • Facilities expenditures represent on average 13% of a site’s HPC budget, and this is the only major category that has increased in each consecutive survey. We estimate that, on average, at least another 5% is paid for facilities items out of another budget. About 36% of respondents stated that their facilities were not in budget (NIB), and many of those who had facilities in their budget did not pay every item (power, cooling, building/floor space).
  • Software share remains steady at about 15% of the total HPC budget. Software tools accounted for the largest share within software, with 24% share of the HPC software budget.
  • Less than half (43%) of all respondents expect their budgets to increase over the next two years, and 44% expect little or no change in budgets. This is a shift from the last few years where over 60% expected an increase of at least 5% or more. Most of this uncertainty is at academic sites and to some degree at government sites; commercial sites are still relatively healthy. Uncertainty in funding at academic and government sites for scientific research as well as the slowness in reaching a complete recovery from the global recession may be contributing to the more conservative expectations.

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