If motherboard and server maker Super Micro is some kind of leading indicator - and a good argument could be made that it is - then the server and PC rackets may indeed be on the mend.
In the company's second quarter of fiscal 2010 ended December 31, Super Micro reported sales of $182m, up a stunning 41.5 per cent from the year-ago quarter. Thanks to tighter cost controls - a little less on research and development, and a bit more for sales, marketing, and other costs - Super Micro was able to boost net income by 42.2 per cent to $7.6m.
Thanks in large part to the rebounding server business, where Super Micro sells a dizzying array of motherboards for the latest chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, Super Micro has been able to increase its cash and equivalents pile by 17.1 per cent to $82.7m; it also has $6.2m in long-term investments.
"Our growth is a result of the strongest and most extensive product lines that we have ever had at Super Micro, which enables us to be more competitive and gain more market share in larger deployment deals," said Charles Liang, the company's president and chief executive officer, in a statement accompanying the financial results.
"Super Micro continues to benefit from our offerings that our customers value in this economy, especially maximizing performance per watt and per dollar. We continue to extend the Super Micro brand as a technology leader.
"Our pipeline of technology innovations and our rapid product development ability make us feel very confident that we are in the technology leading position in the industry."
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Liang said that the company is being called in to bid on more companies and in larger and larger server deals as it becomes known as a custom system provider as well as for raw components like motherboards.
Super Micro grew revenues in all product categories, according to Liang, but he singled out servers and motherboards based on Intel's "Nehalem-EP" Xeon 5500 processors as a particularly strong area, adding that storage, blade servers, and GPU co-processor configurations also helped pump up sales and profits. The company's push into Europe and Asia/Pacific is also helping the top and bottom line.
In the quarter, Super Micro's subsystem sales rose by 53.9 per cent, to $117m, in the second quarter of fiscal 2010, while server and storage system revenues rose by a more modest 22.6 per cent to $65m.
Liang said that Super Micro was ready with rack-based servers to support Intel's forthcoming "Beckton" eight-core Nehalem-EX processor (likely sold as the Xeon 7500), and a similar box based on the quad-core "Tukwila" Itanium from Intel. Both machines will be based on the "Boxboro" chipset from Intel, but the two chips use different processor sockets. The Nehalem-EX machines will come in four-socket and eight-socket configurations spanning 1U, 4U, and 5U form factors and will be aimed at HPC and commercial workloads. The four-socket Tukwila box will be aimed at mission-critical apps, as you might expect.
The company is also ready for the six-core "Westmere" Xeon server ramp, which hits in the middle of March, and AMD's 12-core "Magny-Cours" Opteron 6000s, due at the end of March. (You can get our preview of the Magny-Cours mobos here from last fall's SC09 supercomputing conference.)
Super Micro is planning on delivering 1U, 2U, and 3U servers using the Westmere and Magny-Cours processors, and will slap power supplies with a very high 94 per cent efficiency in these boxes to chase customers running out of power in their data centers.
Because these new server chips are hitting at the end of March (as Intel's Nehalem-EP chips for two-socket servers and workstations did last year), Liang said that Super Micro has "tempered" its forecast for the fiscal third quarter ending in March. The company projects that sales will be somewhere between $175m and $185m.
Still, even at the midpoint of that range, Super Micro will grow at 40 per cent compared to last year's third fiscal quarter, when it had $128.6m in sales. Sales were only off 6.2 per cent in the third quarter of fiscal 2009 as server makers ramped up motherboard sales in the quarter to prepare for the Nehalem-EP launch, so this is actually a relatively tough compare. ®