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The worldwide server market surged in the fourth quarter with system sales from the low to high-end all increasing for the first time since 2001, according to researcher IDC.

Overall, server revenue increased 11.4 percent to $13.7 billion in the period. This came as unit shipments jumped 22 percent year-on-year. Low-end, midrange and high-end sales all grew during the quarter for the first time since the economic downturn began in 2001, IDC said, but the low-end growth continued to be the most dramatic.

"Volume server capabilities are driving into several tiers of the computing infrastructure," said Vernon Turner, group vice president of IDC's worldwide server group. "It shows that high-end server technology has cascaded to this market, and that infrastructure is being augmented by industry standards and IT is reaping the benefits."

IBM held onto its position as the big daddy of the server realm. Big Blue's server revenue rose 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, and it captured 37.9 percent of the market. HP increased revenue 9.4 percent to take 25.8 percent of the market, while Sun's revenue dropped 1.7 percent, leaving it with 10.4 percent market share. Dell followed with 8.6 percent of the market on 19 percent revenue growth, and Fujitsu/Fujitsu-Siemens rounded out the top five, posting the strongest revenue growth - 31.3 percent - and 5.4 percent market share.

Linux servers continued to be the hottest items in the server business. Linux server revenue surged 63.1 percent to $960 million. The Windows server market remained strong but only grew revenue 16.1 percent to $3.9 billion.

Unix serves also grew during the quarter. Total Unix revenue topped out at $5.1 billion on 0.8 percent growth. It was a mixed story for Sun in this segment. The company ended up third in overall revenue behind IBM and HP but managed to increase shipments by 18.2 percent. This was the strongest year-on-year growth for any vendor.

For the full year, vendors moved $46 billion worth of servers. ®

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