Economic worries notwithstanding, the server market continued to grow at a healthy clip in the second quarter, according to research firm Gartner.

Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner said worldwide server sales grew 8% from last year's levels to $11.5 billion, helped by broad-based geographic strength and demand for low-end hardware.

The latest quarterly figures were about on par with the first quarter's 9% growth.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

maintained its top market position with 31% of total server revenue, the same as the prior quarter.

Dell's

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sales grew the fastest among top-tier vendors, with revenue up 20% from last year's levels.

Global server shipments rose almost 25% to more than 1.6 million units, about on pace with the first quarter's 27% shipment growth.

Hewlett-Packard

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led the server market in unit shipments. It claimed 29% of total server unit shipments, growing volumes 23% from last year's levels.

However, H-P's server and storage division

stumbled badly in the company's fiscal third quarter ended July 31, presumably denting its growth in the period measured by Gartner.

By comparison, fourth-ranked

Sun Microsystems

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and second-ranked Dell delivered more robust shipment growth with respective gains of 38% and 29%.

The gains in Sun's server business were especially notable. Not only did Sun boast the most rapid shipment growth of all the top-ranked enterprise outfits, but it finally saw some sunlight on the sales front, squeezing in a revenue gain of 3% from the second quarter last year.

While that marks the weakest revenue growth of the top five server vendors, it's still a welcome reversal after a long string of year-on-year sales declines at the company.

Gartner attributed the gains at Sun to reviving demand from the telecom and financial sectors, traditionally its two biggest industry customers.