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Silicon Graphics

SGI Releases New Workstations 420

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we-wants-it-we-do dept.
Jonathan C. Patschke writes "SGI unveiled two new graphics workhorses today, the Tezro (an Octane2 replacement) and the much-anticipated Onyx 4. The presence of the old "bug" logo warms the cockles of my heart, even if the desktop Tezro looks much like a subwoofer."
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SGI Releases New Workstations

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:41PM (#6435883)
    "If you love something you must set it free. We love these workstations, so we're releasing them today. If it's meant to be, they'll be returned to us... after their hefty leases are up."
  • ATI !!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Merlin42 (148225) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:41PM (#6435889) Homepage
    The huge news with the new systems does not seem to be mentioned on SGIs site. They use ATI chips/cards for the graphics .... SGI has given up on doing proprietary graphics solutions it would seem .. and with good reason imnsho!

    news.com story [com.com]
    • by bazik (672335) <bazik&gentoo,org> on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:46PM (#6435938) Homepage Journal
      Reason for this change is that a InfiniteReality4 can calculate 3 millionen polygons/s, a ATI chip can do about 10 millionen polygons/s in immediate mode or 75 millionen polygons/s in display list mode.

      More information in this article [heise.de], translation here [google.com].
      • Exactly (Score:5, Informative)

        by green pizza (159161) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:19PM (#6436223) Homepage
        Infinite Reality 4 has 1 GB of texture ram and 10 GB of frame buffer memory... so it doe have its advantages for a few specific users. But for the most part, using ATI gfx GPUs (working either independently or in parallel) makes far more sense than having SGI use the last of their resources to fight the ATI/NVIDIA 3D war.

        SGI's strengths are with architecture and I/O. ATI's strenghts are in pixel and polygon pumps. Looks like a perfect union to me.
        • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

          by leeet (543121) on Monday July 14, 2003 @04:33PM (#6436908) Homepage
          True, ATI and Nvidia have a complete army of engineers devoting their entire work on a few chips. A computer such as this one requires many chips and it would be quite hard to compete with ATi unless you spend/invest the same amount of money. Why reinvent the wheel?
          • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Sabalon (1684) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:31PM (#6439487)
            What ATI need's is an army working on their drivers.

            My favorite is when trying to install the driver for an ATI card (only card in the system) the program telling you that "You do not have an ATI card installed."

            Know what - it's right now - I no longer have an ATI card installed.
    • by green pizza (159161) on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:50PM (#6435979) Homepage
      By using ATI GPUs, SGI can focus on their architecture, I/O, and SD/HD video options, rather than try to fight the ATI/NVIDIA 3D battle.

      The new Onyx4 systems are able to drive multiple GPUs independently or in parallel for even more performance. All of this is backed by gobs of CPUs an many GB of RAM to feed the gfx.
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday July 14, 2003 @05:56PM (#6437805) Journal
        But doesn't SGI use only 400mhz processors?

        Yes the mhz myth bla bla bla but I have yet found a processor that can do 10x more work per clock cycle then a standard P4. The p4 is out 4ghz so the processors in these beats would have to be 10x as efficient.

        High speed ddram and rambus as well as scsi in high end pc based workstations offer a much better solution for 10th of the cost.

        • by Alan Partridge (516639) on Monday July 14, 2003 @06:51PM (#6438215) Journal
          700Mhz

          3.2Ghz

          32/7=4.57

          maybe you should master your calculator before graduating to a personal computer?
        • by fgodfrey (116175) <fgodfrey@bigw.org> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @01:08AM (#6440153) Homepage
          So I assume that your Pentium 4 comes with up to 1 Terabyte of RAM and 512 processors (well, ok, so you'd have to go to an Origin 3800 with the graphics pipe to get 512p) in a single system? 'Cause that's what the Onyx4 can be purchased with. Also, SGI hasn't used 400 MHz processors for a few years. I'm not up on their current CPU's but another reply to your post indicates that it's 700 MHz.


          Also, this thing can move more bandwidth back and forth to memory than your PC can dream of. The link between nodes is 1.6GB/sec full duplex ( Of course, we over at Cray can do 16 times that but I digress
          So the moral is, while you can sort of get away with doing a MHz-MHz comparison on two different processors, the overall architecture of the system is what counts if you really want to get work done. This is why SGI and Cray are still in business.

          • See, this is what I get for not using "preview". Right after the "I digress", insert the following:


            The link to local memory is even faster. When you are doing scientific computing, ie. what these machines are sold for, odds are your problem isn't going to come close to fitting in cache in which case your poor P4 is going to spend 50% or more of its time waiting for the results of loads from memory.

    • Re:ATI !!! (Score:2, Interesting)

      Not so good reason imho.
      The new Onyx graphics have less texture memory than InfiniteReality, no 48 bit color and lacks all the extensions of IR. Sure, it's faster, but couldn't they have tried to speed up IR instead of going with Ati ?

      This is Silicon Graphics we're talking about. They used to be the only option.
      • Re:ATI !!! (Score:4, Informative)

        by gfxguy (98788) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:30PM (#6436305)
        I agree... we are using SGI systems for which there simply does not exist a PC equivelent. The graphics subsystems, now an ancient six or seven years old (when did IR come out?) still outperforms, in many instances, anything available on PCs.

        It's not just about raw polygon numbers, it's throughput and combining things like live video textures and so forth - things we use for live, on-air graphics that simply can't be done on any PC graphics cards we've seen, and that includes a very recent test (about a month ago) - our accountants would love for us to replace SGIs with PCs, it just won't work.

        But now I'm sure we'd see the same limitations we have with PCs by using these ATI cards. So seven year old technology is still better than the new stuff (for our purposes).
      • Re:ATI !!! (Score:3, Informative)

        by Merlin42 (148225) *
        First off they are no longer Silicon Graphics ... their name is officially SGI.

        I am not completely familiar with IR or the exact ATI chip used in these boexes, but the FireGL X1 (based on Radeon 9700) can do 24bit(floating point)/channel, althoght the DAC is (iirc) only 10bit/channel. Is the 48bit color you speak of 12bit/channel fixed point?

        What extensions are available on the IR that you can't get on a ATI?

        I really doubt they could have sped up IR enough since they have almost no graphics patents/engin
        • arggghh i didn't preview ... in the ps I meant to say:
          several years ago SGI actually produced several workstations based on nvidia graphics chips ...
  • cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's great to see SGI hanging in there, even though the industries in which they used to dominate have largely become the territory of cheap Linux PCs. While SGIs can no longer boast superior hardware of software, their brand still holds enough cachet for them to stick around a few more years a la Apple.
    • Re:cool (Score:5, Funny)

      by onthefenceman (640213) <(szoepf) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:45PM (#6435927)
      Nah, Apple has been dying for far longer than SGI. The question is whether they can KEEP dying the way Apple does...
    • It's great to see SGI hanging in there, even though the industries in which they used to dominate have largely become the territory of cheap Linux PCs. While SGIs can no longer boast superior hardware of software, their brand still holds enough cachet for them to stick around a few more years a la Apple.

      How many other PCs and Macs can handle hudreds of CPUs and 32 ATI gfx GPUs per system?
  • Nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chicane-UK (455253) <chicane-uk@ntl w o rld.com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:45PM (#6435924) Homepage
    Yet more machines for geeks to dribble over.. I know I wouldn't mind one of those on my desk, even if all I used it for was browsing the net and checking my email..

    Though its worth bearing in mind that you can still pick up some half decent SGI workstations on eBay.. seen some SGI Octane / 20" Monitor / 768MB RAM bundles on UK eBay for around £350 which is a superb deal.. these things might be getting on a bit, but they certainly do shift.

    I used to own both an old Indy and an Indigo2, both of which would be the equivilant of an 8086 in PeeCee computing terms.. but they still cruised along even on the latest version of Irix, and were surprisingly usable :)

    Really must get another SGI some day..
    • by binaryDigit (557647) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:03PM (#6436088)
      Hmm, let's see a 8086 do realtime capturing and displaying of an ntsc video source on a 24bit 1280x1024 display. Now to be honest, 486 to low end Pentium would be a better comparison. Of course assuming these machines had some type of video capture board installed and a pretty kick butt scsi setup. Not the best things in the world for day to day tasks, but if you're doing the right thing, then they are quite nice (Indy less so since it's not as expandable, but one can create a pretty beefy I2. Not to mention the O2.
      • by Lumpy (12016)
        Hmm, let's see a 8086 do realtime capturing and displaying of an ntsc video source on a 24bit 1280x1024 display.

        no problem... give me a scsi card and a hardware capture card... I know a 286 can do it, so get a 8 bit scsi card and I'll show you.

        the computer is nothing more than a simple way of making the good powerful hardware talk to each other. Hell most high end capture cards are NOT PCI/ISA/or whatever but they are SCSI. same with the high end Video output cards. and using them takes almost no proc
    • I have an Indy with a R4000 MIPS cpu. It runs linux and is about the equivalent of a Pentium 120. It is a far cry from an 8068.

      -molo
    • Re:Nice... (Score:2, Interesting)

      I used to own both an old Indy and an Indigo2, both of which would be the equivilant of an 8086 in PeeCee computing terms..

      Actually, no, they aren't. A more accurate comparison would be a P5 series processor at a similar clock rate.

      You forget the several previous generations of machines such as the Indigo [obsolyte.com] or the Personal Iris [vuurwerk.net] and they were drastically faster than an 8086... To find the first machines produced you have to go waaaaay back to 1983 and the Iris [g-lenerz.de] 1X00 [everything2.com].

    • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sql*kitten (1359) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @04:23PM (#6436794)
      Though its worth bearing in mind that you can still pick up some half decent SGI workstations on eBay.. seen some SGI Octane / 20" Monitor / 768MB RAM bundles on UK eBay for around £350 which is a superb deal.. these things might be getting on a bit, but they certainly do shift.

      Try here [13w3.com] or here [blinkenlights.nl].

      I used to own both an old Indy and an Indigo2, both of which would be the equivilant of an 8086 in PeeCee computing terms.. but they still cruised along even on the latest version of Irix, and were surprisingly usable :)

      A PC is a general purpose device that is designed not to suck too badly at anything in particular. A workstation is a specialist device that is designed to retain some general purpose capability. Back in its day, the Indigo2 IMPACT was an impressive machine... you couldn't buy a PC that could do what it could do at any price. Even now, they can hold their own in solid modelling and CAD.

      I have an Octane SE here, 1997 vintage, and my 2002-issue Dell beats it for small CPU bound jobs... but for anything involving a lot of memory accesses, or disk I/O the Octane wins hands down every time. And if I'm not using textures, SE graphics can easily beat a GeForce2.
  • LANL's purchase... (Score:4, Informative)

    by anzha (138288) on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:46PM (#6435936) Homepage Journal

    LANL [lanl.gov] bought an 80 processor Onyx 4. Check HPC Wire [tgc.com] for the story.

  • question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigBir3d (454486) on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:47PM (#6435954) Journal
    The presence of the old "bug" logo warms the cockles of my heart, even if the desktop Tezro looks much like a subwoofer

    What is a computer supposed to look like, and why?

    I thought the Tezro was kind of nifty looking, other than its Nintendo Purple color scheme.
    • It's not a bug! (Score:5, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday July 14, 2003 @04:01PM (#6436604) Homepage Journal
      When I worked at SGI (1998) everything had weird color schemes, the walls, the furniture, everything. And strange architecture too. Though the strangest [sgi.com] set of buildings just got subleased to Google. Which I guess is about getting away from their "Star Wars" image.

      Which is they rebranded in 1998 to make the company logo the letters sgi with the bottoms cut off, as if they were appearing over the horizon. (New motto: "The Solution is in Sight!") But I guess that's even more obscure then the original logo, because now they just use the three letters.

      And the original logo is very obscure. It's not a bug! It's the Chrome Cube [rhino3d.com]! The whole point being that you need an SGI workstation to render the damn thing. But nobody ever got that. So sad!

  • A few notes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by green pizza (159161) on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:48PM (#6435955) Homepage
    Tezro comes in both desktop and rackmount form factors. 1 - 4 MIPS R16000 processors, up to 16 GB RAM, 7 PCI-X slots from 3 busses. Based on Origin 350 architecture.

    Onyx4 "supports" up to 32 graphics GPUs, but more can be added. Each pipe can drive one or two displays or up to 16 GPUs can be used together in parallel for increased performance. Onyx4 is essentially a new graphics brick to be used on Origin 300 or 3000 class host systems.

    SGI has issued a press release discussing a monster Onyx4 they've already sold:
    http://www.sgi.com/newsroom/press_releases/2003/ju ly/lanl.html [sgi.com]

    There are gobs of new SD and HD video card available for both new systems, as well as new audio card offerings. Both machines will seem to require at least IRIX 6.5.21 (the August 2003 quarterly release) to run.
    • Re:A few notes... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pmz (462998)
      Onyx4 "supports" up to 32 graphics GPUs, but more can be added. Each pipe can drive one or two displays or up to 16 GPUs can be used together in parallel for increased performance.

      Trash! My new PC supports AGP 31.415x and has DDR 7000pHz RAM all for $8.65! Hyperthreading and RAM hacks to the max!

      (I'm just joking, here; my most powerful PC is actually a old SunPCi card, for better or worse)

      What would be interesting is a comparison of the recent high-end offerings. Sun released their V880z machine rece
  • Onyx and LOTR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:53PM (#6436001) Homepage Journal
    They have an interesting page [sgi.com] about the success stories of SGI graphics workstations.

    A particularly interesting [sgi.com]one about their role in the making of the LOTR:

    The Wellington, New Zealand, company is using a full complement of IRIX OS-based Silicon Graphics® Octane® and Silicon Graphics® Onyx2® visual workstations, SGI® Origin® family servers, and SGI Linux OS-based visual workstations and servers to create and manage up to 100TB of data. Cool pictures too.

    • by swb (14022) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:01PM (#6436069)
      In other news, scientists from the English speaking world are concerned about the increasing rarity of regsitered trademark symbols. Overharvesting for use in press releases and other marketing mediums is considered a prime cause of this shortage.
  • by djeaux (620938) on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:56PM (#6436029) Homepage Journal
    However, I want one of those cases!

    It makes me wonder, though, why an obvious workhorse machine is packaged up in a box that would make Alienware blush. Sorta like if White Freightliner started slapping Lamborghini-made bodies on their trucks.

    OTOH, maybe SGI is onto something, since they market those things to graphic artists & designers...

    • SGI has always had wild colored cases, weird form factors, etc. Check out the original indigos (big blue boat anchor-style cases), the sweet purple indigo2s, the octane with the light stripe in the front, or the funky little round O2 (hate that machine, can't balance a coffee cup on top). Weird cases are nothing new for SGIs-- not usually as pretty as the apple cases, but they always catch people's attention. And the old CRT monitors can be really, really great-- of course, they weigh 100 lbs each and take
    • Sorta like if White Freightliner started slapping Lamborghini-made bodies on their trucks.

      What the hell's wrong with that? Add more beauty to the world. No one loses. My day is considerably brightened when I look in the rearview and see a 360 Modena smiling back. A 6'x6' Mack truck radiator grille, OTOH, is a different story. And workhorses (the animals), by the way, have a beauty of power and form all their own. Compare with the BBBB (big, boring, beige box), which has... nothing pretty about it at all.
  • Tezro VS. G5 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by itomato (91092)
    Just for shits-n-grins, I'd like to see some sgi vs. apple rendering/modeling benchmarks.

    Seems to me that sgi's only real computational advantages show up in the data modeling arenae; weather, molecules, etc...

    They've both got their plusses and minuses, the most impressive of which differ greatly between machines. Where's the overlap?! That's what I wanna know. How close is Apple *really* to taking on sgi's last vestiges of profitability?
  • Abyss Nostalgia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nacturation (646836) <nacturation&gmail,com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @02:59PM (#6436054) Journal
    I remember at university when SGI came around with their trailer full of cool boxes. This was around 1990 - 1991. The one thing I remember about that event was the real-time demonstration of the water tentacle [uic.edu] effect from The Abyss [imdb.com].

    No other machine could even come close to rendering this kind of thing real-time. These days, we're spoiled by high-end graphics cards costing only hundreds of dollars which eclipse what SGI could do back then by a factor of 10.
  • by wsherman (154283) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:00PM (#6436059)

    Now that stereo 3D is available with Linux and consumer hardware, the SGI offerings look a whole lot less impressive.

    I looked into getting an SGI workstation a while back but since I wasn't a big corporation they treated me like I didn't exist. If SGI dropped their prices and marketed their stuff through something like Best Buy they'd have a chance of being more than a niche market supercomputer manufacturer but maybe that's all they care about anyway.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:22PM (#6436244) Homepage Journal
      They are a niche company. Nobody would be buying sgi from best buy, heck, if it's hard to sell a linux box how hard it is to sell irix box? Especially when they aren't cheap either and joe has no use for it's features and the consumer competition is tough.
    • yeah, I feel the same way about Aston Martin's...I looked into getting one a while back, but my local car dealership didn't have one. if they would only drop their prices and marketed their stuff through the coupon booklet I get in the mail, then they'd have a chance of being more than a niche market highly-engineered premium luxury car manufacturer, but maybe that's all they care about anyway.
    • Hmm.. ever tried buying a Mac at Bestbuy...?
      As far as SGI gear, I can imagine the poor (uneducated rep) asking you: "shall we charge your bestbuy credit card on this $24,999.95 order sir?"

      Interested in an extended warranty plan for only $8900?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:01PM (#6436068)
    It's just too hard to masturbate to these small images.
  • The new tezro box looks like the Macintosh "command" key icon extruded into 3d. Very interesting... I would hope that someday these will make really sweet micro-fridge mod cases!
  • All I see it "contact a sales rep" crap. T-e-l-e-p-h-o-n-e, what's that? Fill out a form so you can get back with me if I'm a good enough customer?

    What are the prices?

    Why can't I just order up a couple machines off their web pages?

    I was going to order 3 or 4 machines for a graphics project ohwell... Sorry SGI, you lose 'cause I couldn't get pricing information for even order the machines. Guess I'll stick with Dell or Apple.

    (I'm being sarcastic, but I think I made my point)
    • by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:26PM (#6436280)
      No, you didn't, actually. SGI does not market to consumers or small businesses. SGI markets to corportations and institutions. The worlds where the purchase order is king.
      • Yeah, and that has worked so well, hasn't it ? Sgi has been bleeding money for years now and there is still no end in sight to their problems and money is running out.

        Sgi should drop their arrogant attitude and start caring about anyone who wants to buy their stuff.

        Having a web store is quite normal these days and I don't understand why Sgi doesn't have one.
      • I once saw an SGI for retail sale (or so I assumed, I can't read Japanese) over the counter in Akihabara (sp) in Tokyo back in 1999. I took a photo like only a geek would ...
    • by Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:38PM (#6436384) Homepage
      All I see it "contact a sales rep" crap. T-e-l-e-p-h-o-n-e, what's that? Fill out a form so you can get back with me if I'm a good enough customer?

      What are the prices?

      Why can't I just order up a couple machines off their web pages?

      I was going to order 3 or 4 machines for a graphics project ohwell... Sorry SGI, you lose 'cause I couldn't get pricing information for even order the machines. Guess I'll stick with Dell or Apple.

      (I'm being sarcastic, but I think I made my point)


      SGI lost the battle for low-end machines long ago. Nobody in their right mind is purchasing low-end SGIs unless they already have a lab full of high-end ones and simply want compatibility - in which case they already have an established relationship with SGI.

      The point is that if you want to render 3-D graphics on a wall of 36 LCD displays in a 6x6 grid, fed from a 2-TB server of image data, you can't buy Dell or Apple. You can't even put together a Linux box to do that. SGI is simply the only game in town that builds machines with graphics pipes that big.
      • The point is that if you want to render 3-D graphics on a wall of 36 LCD displays in a 6x6 grid

        Or if you want to have, say, 16 GPUs working in parallel on one 1600x1200 display channel for an ungodly amount of detail... The Onyx4 (and previously, Onyx InfinitePerformance) can do that as well.
    • by Performer Guy (69820) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:46PM (#6436462)
      It's a sad fact that SGI sales are embarrassingly bad. I used to work for SGI, while I was still there I knew ex-SGI employees who tried to buy machines for REAL projects and couldn't, it was just too difficult with the whole sales rep runaround. Very frustrating! Don't believe me? Call them up and tell them you want to buy an Onyx4 system. You WILL get the runaround, especially if you want a few technical details or need to discuss configuration options. They couldn't sell popcorn in a cinema lobby.
  • by tsetem (59788) <tsetem&gmail,com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:25PM (#6436277)
    ...Erwin [userfriendly.org] will be getting an upgrade?
  • I actually downloaded the datasheet for the "Silicon Graphics Onyx4 Ultimate Vision Family," and found it a very curious document indeed. It has some interesting hard facts about the system (OpenGL 1.4, 8-32 graphic processor pipes on the "Extreme," up to 8 GB of graphic memory (sweet!), etc.), but what I was looking was the type and speed of the processors used. So I kept looking.

    And looking.

    And looking.

    It's not there.

    SGI's own datasheet for the Onyx4 Family doesn't tell you what processor it runs! Others in the thread have said it uses MIPS chips, but the word "MIPS" never appears in the datasheet (nor "RISC," for that matter). It tells you how many processors the system uses, but not what they are or how fast they are.

    This is not just odd; for a datasheet, it's nearly unprecedented. Only three explanations for this abscence occur to me:

    1. They have the world's most incompetent technical writers. (Very unlikely.)

    2. They're actually ashamed of their CPU, and don't want to tell you what it is or how fast in runs. (Most likely.)

    3. They're desperately working behind the scenes to port their software to commodity hardware (mostly likely x86, but the 970/G5 might be a smarter choice). (Unlikely, but not impossible.)


    I have no idea how fast the current generation of MIPS chips are (I think the last time I saw a benchmark, they were slower than Alphas, which tells you it was back when they were still benchmarking Alphas rather than letting them die a quiet and undeserved death), but the fact that SGI isn't even willing to mention them in their datasheet doesn't give me confidence.
    • by dutky (20510) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:47PM (#6436471) Homepage Journal
      I noticed that too (but you beat me to the post). I think that there is another explanation, however:
      • The Onyx4 either currently is, or will soon be, based on the Itanium rather than the MIPS. HP did something simlar with their recent platforms (shipped with PA-RISC but were plug-compatible with Itanium).

      The marketing-speak "Industry Leading Processors" is awfully suspicious. The sad part is, SGI doesn't have any good options:

      1. They already discredited the MIPS, so they can't admit to using that.
      2. They can't brag about the Itanium, since it's not doing all that stellarly well (not, at least, as well as it was hyped to do).
      3. They can't transition to x86, since they already tried that once and it was a disaster.
      4. They can't transition to some other platform, since they haven't got any residual credability with which to fund such a move (anyone still using SGIs would rather jump ship entirely).

      SGI has tried just about every dumb trick in the book (most pioneered by DEC) to find some way to move from thier ever shrinking niche (data visualization and computer animation) to something broader and more profitable. At each step along the way they have annoyed and alienated their loyal customers.

    • by green pizza (159161) on Monday July 14, 2003 @04:14PM (#6436711) Homepage
      MIPS R16000 @ 700 MHz

      Onyx4, for the most part, is just another Origin 3xxx class brick. In this case, it's the new Graphics Brick. Plug as many as you want into your existing Origin.

      As most Onyx4s will probably be using Origin 350s as their host, then my best guess is R16K/700 CPUs.

      The CPU performance doesn't matter quite as much in an SGI as it would in a Mac or PC.

      Most folks that use SGIs for number cruching have picked that platform based on its trememdous amount of memory and I/O. If their task was simply CPU bound or didn't need more than a few hundred MB/sec of IO, they'd just use a PC cluster.

      Most folks that use SGIs for graphics do so because they either need tight integration with video (HD or SD, see Discreet Inferno or IFX Piranha using SGI's DM3 HD video I/O subsystem).... or because they need multiple displays running of the same system. (http://www.sgi.com/newsroom/press_releases/2003/j une/planetarium.html [sgi.com]) Either each pipe running one or two displays or multiple pipes running in parallel.

      Folks that use SGIs for both reasons typically require gobs of number crunching combined with some sort of display system that is able to plot the trillions of data points without bringing the machine to its knees. SGI has a lot of such cloak and dagger government / defense users.

      There's also the growing Altix series of machines, which use Origin-class architecture with the Itanium processor family. There are rumors of a totally new MIPS processor coming soon as well.

      The main point is that the new Onyx4 graphics are delievered in brick form, they're modular, and they will probably be eventually used on multiple SGI systems. And because SGI is leaving most of the 3D work to the ATI/NVIDIA pixel war, they can save some money and focus on other engineering aspects.
    • No shame... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by haeger (85819) on Monday July 14, 2003 @04:35PM (#6436921)
      They're actually ashamed of their CPU, and don't want to tell you what it is or how fast in runs. (Most likely.)

      Not likely at all imho. SGI's use MIPS as someone pointed out. The latest ones are 700MHz I believe. Another cool feature with the MIPS processors are that they don't consume much power. I seem to remember that they about 17w or so, allowing you to put a lot of cpus together without the need for a lot of cooling.

      And when it comes to specs, I'm sure that someone can point out that the processor speed is not nearly as important as the architecture of the machine.
      I think it was spec.org who did some test a few years ago comparing the 400mhz MIPS and a 1GHz AMD/Intel and found that the MIPS had about 70% of the computing power to the AMD/Intel, but when You put this in a multiprocessor machine (4 I think) the MIPS was 120% to the AMD/Intel and when scaled up even further(16-32), AMD/Intel wasn't even on the charts.

      No, SGI has NOTHING to be ashamed of when it comes to their MIPS.

      .haeger
  • While the Tezro is a pretty impressive looking workstation, I'm really wondering what sort of market SGI has anymore. The workhorse for the heavy 3D graphics work is the VPro V12 and the 2D video is handled by the DMediaPro expansion card. Anymore a high bandwidth high capacity 2D or 3D video accelerator is not something that necessitates a über-expensive SGI workstation. That same equipment or an equivilent could be stuck in say a G5 PowerMac or Opteron based workstation. Both would be far less expens
    • Re:2000th Post Troll (Score:3, Informative)

      by nurble (583473)
      I use flame and inferno on octane and onyx respectively, and I can say that macintoshes (though I love them dearly) come nowhere near the realtime performance of SGI machines. It's not the CPU, or even the graphics processing, really, it's the bandwidth of the system. The fact that they can now play 2k 12bit images in real time. If you're sitting in a room with a director or an ad agency, you want to hit an image and see it, not wait for the thing to load into memory so you can play it. I can run an ima
  • by nurble (583473) <nurble.mac@com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:51PM (#6436518) Homepage
    can be found here [fxguide.com]. Written by the former hardware guru for discreet [discreet.com], it pretty much spells out what these machines are up to and how they compare to their predecessors. I'm no hardware guy, but it made decent sense to me. have at it!
  • by cutecub (136606) on Monday July 14, 2003 @03:53PM (#6436525)
    I used to work for SGI and also did freelance video animation ( a very long time ago ) on an SGI Indy.

    As an individual, the biggest problem I encountered wasn't the cost of the SGI system (a one-time cost), it was the cost of the system software and drivers.

    OS upgrades were expensive.
    Print drivers were expensive.
    Networking options were expensive.
    The compilers were unbundled.

    Most of the software Open Source geeks nowadays take for granted as being free, cheap, and readily available was expensive and exotic on the SGI.

    I ultimately switched to a high-end Macintosh. Today, the Mac is an even more compelling alternative to a low-end SGI for media production.

    I don't know about SGI's other niches, such as Scientific Visualization, but I would expect high-end PCs to have the edge over low-end SGIs in other areas.

    -S

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