Global server sales grew 4 per cent in the first quarter 2005, claims Gartner.

The growth is being driven by strong sales from IBM.

Total server revenue for the quarter was $12.33 billion, up from $11.84 billion during the first quarter of 2004. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell were the top three server vendors, with sales of $3.67 billion, $3.47 billion and $1.33 billion for the period.

With a 16 per cent rise in sales of "x86" servers, which use processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, HP actually shipped the largest number of servers by a wide margin. HP shipped a total of 498,000 servers during the quarter, followed by Dell and IBM, which sold 402,000 and 183,000 systems, respectively.

Unix sales were up slightly for the quarter, but IBM was the only one of the top three vendors to see its Unix business grow. Big Blue had Unix sales of $1.23 billion for the quarter, followed by HP, which had sales of $1.17 billion. Third-place Sun Microsystems Inc. saw its Unix sales drop from $1.21 billion to $1.13 billion, year over year.

Despite marketing efforts to promote itself as an x86 vendor, Sun's overall revenues dropped as well during the period. During the first quarter of 2004 Gartner estimates it sold $1.22 billion in servers. For the most recent quarter, sales dropped to $1.17 billion.