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There are signs of life in the server industry as almost all major vendors enjoyed double-digit growth in the second quarter, according to preliminary numbers from Gartner.

A total of 1.28 million servers were shipped worldwide in Q2. This marks a 17.6 percent gain over the same quarter a year ago and the largest rise in shipments since 2000. The gains are good news for vendors, although Garter warns that the most recent data compares to a slow quarter in 2002.

"All of the major regions recorded positive year-over-year growth for the second quarter, but the current report of strong growth must be balanced against the overall weakness of the market during the second quarter of last year," Gartner said.

Customers have become more willing to put part of their IT budgets toward server purchases, as they sense the start of an economic recovery, Gartner said. Still, they are not ready to spend on the big kit just yet.Strong sales of small, one to four processor systems led to the rise in shipments.

HP continues to be the reigning server champ in worldwide sales with 376,100 units shipped, but Dell and IBM are closing in on HP's lead. Dell moved 261,600 boxes, and IBM shipped 199,900 systems. Sun and Fujitsu Siemens rounded out the top five with 64,000 and 25,500 units shipped, respectively.

IBM had a particularly strong quarter, increasing shipments by 33.5 percent. Dell grew at 32.9 percent, while HP increased sales at half the rate of its main rivals or 15.7 percent.

Sun had by far the worst quarter of any major vendor, as sales dropped by 19.4 percent. All other vendors grew in the quarter.

Gartner has worked to refine its server counting practice after an embarrassing episode forced it to restate huge chunks of numbers from past quarters. Let's hope the latest data drop is on target. ®

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