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SGI Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

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  • Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syylk (538519) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:02AM (#15284557) Homepage
    I worked with IRIX at some point of my career. Nothing impressive, mind you. But the machine was stylish and the aura of "eliteness" leaked from every vent grill. Onyxes, Octanes, Origins... They could be beat by a low-level GPU these days, but back then, they were wet dreams coming true.

    I'm sad to see them go. Not surprised, but still a bit sad.

    Erwin will need a new home...
  • by furry_marmot (515771) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:04AM (#15284565) Homepage
    ...I'm surprised it took this long. After throwing over their own OS for NT workstations and losing the high-end specialty graphics market, they veered into supercomputers and bought Cray, which didn't help either company, and they haven't done anything interesting in years. RIP SGI
  • Unexpected (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:05AM (#15284581)

    Old age is the most unexpected [accelerating.org] of things that can happen to a man. -- Trotsky

  • by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:10AM (#15284608) Journal
    I used to work in the military simulation business about six years ago. SGI used to be the dominant player for real time graphics for the visuals for things like flight simulators. Even then, their fortunes were declining. The fundemental problem was that the problem in military simulation was not getting harder, and the commodity hardware was getting to the level of being able to handle it. People now longer had to pay the premium for the SGI equipment.

    I don't think they stopped doing what they were doing - they just never came up with a strategy to handle the new reality.

  • by datafr0g (831498) * <datafrog@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:13AM (#15284625) Homepage
    The money's not in hardware anymore - hasn't been for a long time unless you can supply a massive like and do it well. Professional Services is where it's at now - IBM learned this in the early 90's.

    Big hardware companies need to seriously change their outlook - if it can be done with a PC, it will eventually be done with a PC cheaply, the question is not what the "box" does, it's who's the best at providing the service.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:28AM (#15284714)
    One Name: Rick Belluzzo.

    Some would think this is precisely what Belluzzo had in mind all along--to kill SGI. As a former HP employee, I wouldn't trust Belluzzo to wash my car.

    Was anyone surprised Ricky ended up at Microsoft?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:42AM (#15284787)
    In the early 1990s, SGI's Indy system became wildly popular. While still being relatively affordable relative to PCs of the time, it provided a very solid workstation. You could get the power of IRIX and acceptable graphics at a fraction of the price of their higher-end systems.

    For many, the Indy proved to be a gateway system. Developers or graphics artists would purchase an Indy, become quite happy with it, and then go on to purchase higher-end SGI hardware when the need arose.

    The Opteron provided an opportunity for them to repeat that feat. They could have released a low-cost, high-quality workstation based around that CPU. Had they beaten Sun, HP, and others, they could have had a large chunk of the market. They could have even used the distinctive blue/teal case of the Indy to appeal to former users.

    In addition to that, they could have tweaked a system such as FreeBSD to run very well on their new Opteron-based system. Unfortuantely, IRIX development has lagged recently, and is just not up to par with other UNIX systems of today. FreeBSD, however, with SGI-specific modifications could have proved to be a real winner.

  • by Frumious Wombat (845680) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:46AM (#15284804)
    It's not just the commodity workstations that did them in. Their high-end equipment was increasingly uncompetitive against IBM/HP/Sun. They did a lot of thrashing; they were going to compete on mid-range business systems (crushed by Sun/Linux from below and IBM/HP/Sun from above), then they were going to compete on supercomputers by buying Cray (sold the machine they didn't understand to Sun, which called it the E10000 Starfire, and sold billions, while SGI ended up selling Cray to Tera for a loss), then they hitched their star to Itaniums. There was also the issue of software quality control during the version 7 compiler development, which gained them a reputation for wonky compilers (hint: if you're selling to the HPC guys, rock-solid, DEC/IBM quality Fortran is a must), and the slipping performance advantage versus conventional PC. (The R5000 was equal, roughly, to a Pentium 233, when the PII/PIII were available for less than $2K, though you couldn't tell the SGI reps that if you waved actual simulation run times in their face)

    So, in a way, gross mismanagement over a period of about a decade. The amazing thing is that it took so long to finally go bankrupt. Pity, as I remember my Indigo2 SolidImpact (with the CrystalEyes stereo adapter) rather fondly. On the other hand, I don't remember my days securing Irix nearly as fondly. Another contender who actually believed their PR, and lost sight of their market.
  • by csoto (220540) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:54AM (#15284833)
    With a Chapter 11 reorg, a potential buyer would get access to a lot of very interesting HPC technology, without a lot of liability. This is what the current bondholders are counting on - buy it while it's cheap and sell it for more to some other company.

    What do you get (of any value) when you snap up SGI?

    -XFS/XVM/CXFS - one of the best storage environments out there in production
    -OpenGL/VAN
    -DMF/TMF
    -GRIO
    -Numerous other subsystems to IRIX/Linux

    Their hardware hasn't kept pace as well. However, there's still a lot to like about the architecture (HyperTransport looks so much like SGI-Craylink). They're about the only ones who managed to make something useful of Itanium (another straw on the camel's back). Perhaps someone could do something with it, provided they supply the needed R&D money.
  • by Pervertus (637664) <t8jlcfw02 AT sneakemail DOT com> on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:59AM (#15284857) Journal
    Several factors are tied to the sudden but expected death of SGI:

    • Compatibility - they used to have a proprietary method for connecting things to the computer. Instead of using the VGA that we all use and love, they used 3 RGB cables. People didn't like that because they couldn't make fun use of SGI monitors - at least not without buying converters and stuff.
    • IRIX user friendliness - while it was cool that IRIX had scaleable icons, it was a shame that if you tried to use the camera with program A but the camera was in use by program B, then program A simply would just say "device in use", instead of giving more details about the error, like which program is keeping the camera busy. That frustrated many users, who hoped that the programmers would care.
    • Logo change - after SGI changed their logo to boring letters, it accelerated the demise. All the magic was gone.

    I am sorry for SGI breaking down. But I hope that Apple can learn from their mistakes. It's too late for Sun I guess.
    I shall remember you, SGI, and I will think of you every time I play with my future girlfriend.
  • Oh No! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by twazzock (928396) on Monday May 08, 2006 @10:12AM (#15284917)
    What's going to happen to OpenGL? The API can't die! I don't want to have to use DirectX! What will I use in Linux?
  • Re:Press Release (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ctrl-Z (28806) <[tim] [at] [timcoleman.com]> on Monday May 08, 2006 @10:14AM (#15284924) Homepage Journal
    What, you mean like this text in the second paragraph? "...the Company and its U.S. subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions under chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code."
  • by rbanffy (584143) on Monday May 08, 2006 @10:29AM (#15285034) Homepage Journal
    I am not sure there is a market for Unix workstations.

    There are few things that spot opportunities as well as companies competing for space. The lack of offerings indicates the lack of a consumer market - it indicates that those who want non x-86 Unix-like desktops (and I would love to see a Niagara, MIPS, XCPU, Cell or ARM-based desktop computer - I love diversity) are very few.

    Modern x86 PCs, as dull as they are, are quite capable Unix workstations and, in many respects, are well beyond any desktop system SGI ever made.
  • by ddmau (635549) on Monday May 08, 2006 @11:42AM (#15285571) Homepage
    Sad Sad day. I worked for them for almost seventeen years (under 1000 Employee #).....laid off about three years ago. Best company I ever worked for, and a great place to be. Some of the sharpest engineering folks I've ever seen, and the most idiotic management on the planet. The only reason SGI survived as long as it did was due to their exceptional technology (on many levels), but because of the fools at the helm, it didn't have a chance to succeed. As far as I'm concerned, even though hit continued to rise for a few years based on pure technology...the fall really started when Dr. Clark quit in frustration and went off and started Netscape.....he was the true visionary and the "Core" of the Old SGI, but the board of directors wouldn't let him take the company where it really needed to go. It's never good to dwell on what might-have-been, but in my opinion, Silicon Graphics had the potential to totally dominate and change the direction of computing as we know it at one time, but because of pure bureaucratic idiocy, was basically strangled in it's infancy. What a waste.

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths

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