This quarter it was IBM's turn to beat HP into second place in server sales, as the latest figures from analysts IDC show continuing good overall market growth of 4.9 percent and the market leaders both topping eight percent.
While the rest could not touch those sorts of figures, third-placed Sun could still post a respectable 6.3 percent. Dell, with just 1.7 percent growth in an otherwise strong market, was lagging in fourth place. Fujitsu Siemens saw its sales fall by 5.6 percent and the other suppliers saw their share falling too.
In cash terms, the overall market grew to $12,394m (£6,237m) in the first quarter of this year from $11,812m (£5,944m) in the same quarter last year.
While these figures are for the systems as measured by the value sold, in volume terms the market grew by 4.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, which IDC believes is "the highest growth rate for this important segment since the third quarter of 2006".
IDC believes that the strongest growth is not in the volume server market but in the "high-end enterprise systems segment", which grew by 8.5 percent. This was the second consecutive quarter in which high-end systems sales outperformed the market for servers in general, IDC said, and was "only the second time in the 10-year history of IDC's Quarterly Server Tracker that high-end enterprise system revenue grew faster than volume system revenue".
This added up to a very good quarter for IBM, the major player in high-end performance systems, thanks to its zSeries mainframes and supercomputer expertise. IBM's System z servers running z/OS had their "fourth consecutive quarter of positive revenue growth, with 11.7 percent year-over-year growth in the quarter, to $993m [£499m]", IDC said. The mainframe z/OS operating system accounted for eight percent of all server revenue.
Linux servers are also continuing on a strong growth path and the first quarter of 2007 was "their second consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, with year-over-year revenue growth of 10 percent, for a total of $1.6bn (£805m) in the quarter". Linux servers now represent 12.7 percent of all server revenue.