HPC in the critical path

Is high performance computing a critical path technology? Is it a technology that you cannot do without?
This is a question some potential partners were discussing this evening. Very interesting question.
If HPC is not critical, then demand for it should be quite moderate.
If it is not critical, then the market would have basically replacement level growth rates.
If end users did not see a value in HPC, they wouldn’t use it, as their time would be spent elsewhere. Why use something of no value to you if you do not need it?
And that is the rub. We were told that in the particular process we were looking at, that HPC is not in the critical path. This is a market in which HPC is growing at a significant rate.
If it were not critical, then why are all these companies buying it?
I understand their real motives, and it had little to do with critical path. More along the lines of negotiation.
The point remains though, that peoples purchasing actions may not be well aligned with the words they tell others. More importantly, most people are going to do what is in their singular and collective best interests.
These people are buying HPC systems. They can say way they want, and you can’t really measure what people say in any meaningful or objective manner. You can measure what they do.