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SGI Arises From the Ashes 195

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the back-in-the-saddle dept.
eldavojohn writes "Six months ago, Slashdot reported on SGI's filing of Chapter Eleven Bankruptcy. I wondered why Slashdot kept the Silicon Graphics category with them now defunct. But Chapter Eleven means a reorganization — not liquidation. And, surprisingly, SGI has dusted itself off and stood back up. What did they dust off? About $150 million worth of spending a year. Will this reorganization put them back as a player in the graphics game? Maybe but as the article notes, they have some stiff competition that offer comparable services for less money. Is this a phoenix story or the final death throes of the company?" To be honest, no one here suspected a thing. We just keep the old topics around so it's still possible to find old stories related to them. Sometimes (like now!) they even still come in handy.
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SGI Arises From the Ashes

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  • Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:29PM (#16510189) Homepage Journal

    I don't think it's simply a matter of making the hardware, but having the brains left to design it. SGI once came out with the greatest stuff, but now loads of that all fits on one video card or multiple video cards with shared GPUs. Of course their old business model wasn't just to sell you the machine, but to license the software, operating system, sell support etc. Not many can do that these days, like they did in the days of yore.

    We just keep the old topics around so it's still possible to find old stories related to them. Sometimes (like now!) they even still come in handy.

    Call me a dreamer, but I keep hoping some day these guys [slashdot.org] will arise from the ashes of HP/Compaq and Intel.

    Introducing the PDP-11/128 and the VAX 9990! (2-AAA cell batteries not included.)

    • Re:Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PsychicX (866028) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:39PM (#16510313)
      It's interesting to note that NVIDIA and ATI were both created by people who realized how utterly braindead the SGI management was and walked out before the titantic sank. So in some sense, these people are the leftovers, the ones who screwed up and never realized it.

      Can an old dog of a megacorp learn new tricks? We'll find out, I guess. A new competitor in the consumer GPU industry would certainly be appreciated.
      • Re:Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Informative)

        by stox (131684) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:01PM (#16511155) Homepage
        Bzzzzt! Wrong, please play again. SGI was only founded three years before ATI, 1982 and 1985 respectively. Nvidia was founded in 1993. None of the founders of these companies had anything to do with SGI. Two of the three Nvidia founders were from SUN, and the third AMD.
        • Re:Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:35PM (#16511455) Homepage Journal
          If your first name is Ken, I met you on a bus travelling from Baltimore to Washington D.C. about 12 years ago. You whipped out your laptop and booted up Linux. And you bitched about not being able to smoke on the bus. Small world. Folks, this dude was on the Internet way back in 1982 or earlier. I'm a relative young'in, only on the net since 1988.
          • Re:Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by stox (131684) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @10:27PM (#16511809) Homepage
            Wow! I guess I wasn't low profile enough, even back then. ;-> That would have been the bus between BWI and the Convention Center, 11 years ago. Boy, that was one hell of a trip. My flight was late, and I needed to setup the booth for Fermilab at the Supercomputing 1995 conference. I still have my Cray IV poster, signed by Seymour. When I got there, the convention center staff still had not unloaded and delivered our crates. We quickly figured out which members of the staff to bribe and get our stuff before the convention actually started. Corrupt little bunch over there, but being from Chicago, I was used to it.

            I managed to make strange, though obvious, contribution to the rise of the Internet at that convention. At the time, nobody was putting their web address on business cards. After the first day, my writing hand was exhausted from scribbling our web address on pieces of paper. The next day, I ran out to a print shop and had a few hundred cards printed up with our web address. The day after that, a few of the commercial exhibitors did the same. I'll probably burn in hell for that idea.

            Drop a note, my email address is visible.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:39PM (#16510323)
      Many of the Alpha engineers transitioned to AMD. That's why we've seen such great developments from AMD over the past few years. While Intel was fucking around with the failure that became the Itanium, AMD had some of the greatest processor designers ever working on the Opteron. And the end result is as would be expected: the Opteron is the premiere general purpose processor around.

      • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:45PM (#16510393) Homepage Journal

        Many of the Alpha engineers transitioned to AMD. That's why we've seen such great developments from AMD over the past few years. While Intel was fucking around with the failure that became the Itanium, AMD had some of the greatest processor designers ever working on the Opteron. And the end result is as would be expected: the Opteron is the premiere general purpose processor around.

        For years I followed the battle between DEC and Intel, over Intel stealing a dozen or so technologies from DEC, which they implemented in the Pentium and Itanic (Merced at the time) DEC waited until Intel was commited to their theft before lowering the boom. Ultimately Intel settled with DEC, gaining access to the patents and having to fork over a very considerable amount of money for DEC's processor fab, which IIRC Intel shut down anyway. Oddly enough, after all this cash poured into DEC they still went bust. I think, too, a lot of the smarter fish left DEC when they saw that ship foundering near the rocks of poor market direction.

        • by DrDitto (962751)
          For years I followed the battle between DEC and Intel, over Intel stealing a dozen or so technologies from DEC, which they implemented in the Pentium and Itanic (Merced at the time) DEC waited until Intel was commited to their theft before lowering the boom. Ultimately Intel settled with DEC, gaining access to the patents and having to fork over a very considerable amount of money for DEC's processor fab, which IIRC Intel shut down anyway. Oddly enough, after all this cash poured into DEC they still went bu
          • by mihalis (28146) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:45PM (#16511523) Homepage

            This is a load of crap. The ideas of superscalar out-of-order processors came from IBM, CDC, Cray, and the academic literature years before either DEC or Intel ever implemented one. Yet when Intel came out with the out-of-order Pentium Pro, all the DEC guys were screaming and hollering.

            Who mentioned out-of-order? Digital didn't release an out of order processor until quit a long time after Intel. Intel's Pentium Pro (out-of-order) was about on par with the Alpha 21164 (strictly in order, but clocking very high for its silicon technology). The Alpha 21264 was out-of-order but suffered severe delays and I don't thnk the program EVER recovered. I don't recall Digital staking a claim to originating out-of-order. They did claim to be doing it better with unbeatable low-level circuit designs.

          • by ackthpt (218170) *

            This is a load of crap.

            Your post certainly is.

            The ideas of superscalar out-of-order processors came from IBM, CDC, Cray, and the academic literature years before either DEC or Intel ever implemented one. Yet when Intel came out with the out-of-order Pentium Pro, all the DEC guys were screaming and hollering.

            Just did a few minuts googling and came up with this [techlawjournal.com] I was off on the amount, remembering hearing $425 million, where it was actually $700 million Intel paid (though it could have been $4

      • by KonoWatakushi (910213) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:33PM (#16511437)
        Such as the lead chip designer for the Alpha, Dan Dobberpuhl. A few others are also listed at http://www.pasemi.com/about/team.html [pasemi.com]

        The PWRficient family of PPC processors is actually very interesting from a HPC standpoint; it may even be of some use to SGI. These chips are fast, extremely low power, and have a ton of integrated I/O and memory bandwidth. They are the perfect chip for an extremely high density Blue Gene style system. (Among many other things.)

        In any case, the demise of the Alpha was truly a shame. As for SGI, I believe that their fate was sealed when they changed their name and logo. To discard such a logo is unforgivable; if they were to restore it though, perhaps they may rise again...
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        "While Intel was fucking around with the failure that became the Itanium,..."

        Maybe Intel thought they would give rise to an Itanium rod with which to slap AMD around?

        (heheh, Slash image word: "degrade")
    • Re:Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frumious Wombat (845680) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:01PM (#16510603)
      Wierdly enough, if you drill hard enough you'll find their "Prism" system, which looks like the old Immersadesk, augmented by Reality Walls and Cave-type environments. OTOH, they won't tell you what it's running on, and the two Irix workstations still in the line-up are marked "EOL Dec 2006".

      Therefore, they're going to compete in HPC with Itanium and Opteron systems, which seems to be a recipe for getting crushed by the Terra/Cray hybrid (under Cray's name), HP and their Itanium servers through SuperDrome systems, and IBM/Sun on the smaller Opteron boxes. Add to this that they've fired to many engineers, this has to be a delaying action before the real end: six guys running a consulting company out of a Mountain-View garage.

      They really are a case of, "time to sell whatever assets are left, return the proceeds to the stockholders, and say, "it was fun"". However, since they just came out of bankruptcy, the stock is probably worth less than nothing, so time to sell whatever assets are left, order a pizza and six-pack of cheap beer with the proceeds, then turn out the lights.
      • Re:Arise! Arise! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @11:28PM (#16512331)
        FYI, they EOP'd the Prism deskside in June 06 (it was IA64-Linux); their 'cheap' system was $7K (ridiculous.) The larger Prism systems were interesting- they were basicially a large Altix with graphics pipes strapped on; but was a solution in search of a problem. How many people need to visualize a half-terabyte of data from RAM? The demo they liked to show at trade shows was to visualize every part of a Boeing 777 (down to each rivet) in real time. It didn't wow you because you can't see every rivet (even at 10Kx10K), and it wasn't textured. If you need to explain with more than 3 words why your demo is awesome, then your demo isn't awesome.

        The Altix is better in just about every category than the SuperDromes (price, performance, units shipped, IO, scalability, etc.). The nice thing about the Altix versus the Tera/Cray system is that code written by Joe Researcher on his 2P Linux desktop machine will run on 2048P Altix w/ just a recompile. While IBM's Blue Gene & Red Storm are 'linux-based', developing for the platform is nontrivial. Of course, if you're dropping $50M, you could probably swing a few dollars for some experts to optimize for that platform. They also got screwed by the Intel's Montecito delay.

        SGI isn't selling Opteron clusters (They have a 'special' relationship with Intel.) They are selling Xeon clusters (commodity currently, coming out with more special sauce platforms). It's probably too late. If they came out with clusters in '99 - '01 when there were a significant SGI user-base that would pay a premium for their tools and environment, they could have captured a good share of that market.

        Going Chapter-11 freed up cash. They aren't going to compete in graphics, but they have enough interesting hardware and low expenses to carve out a niche market. The ex-creditors own much of the new stock.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Point taken about the SuperDrome pricing, and I'm still an Itanium fan (and beginning to understand Chingachgook at the end of "Last of the Mohicans" as a result), but the worry would be that for mid-sized problems, 2-4 proc boxes from HP, and interconnects from Myricom/Quadrics, will get you as far as most of SGI's line-up. PNNL built a massive Itanium cluster that way, and as opposed to buying SGI, you get a company (HP) which can still afford to invest in research in various technologies. Maybe SGI, su
        • I had a discussion with some colleagues yesterday at the launch of our latest Dell/Xeon-based cluster, Lonestar. I explained that I was concerned how little development was going into TRUE supercomputers, not simply supercomputing clusters. Single-image, large ccNUMA systems are rare. But they're still needed for "non-chunkable" processes. OK, so only a few people need them, whereas Googles and the like can benefit from highly parallel cluster technologies, I still hope there remains the kind of brillia
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by inKubus (199753)
        More like "rise from the ashes" marketing campaign and press release, announce the sale of the brand to Apple, pump and dump.

      • Prism info (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Prien715 (251944)
        The problem with Prism isn't that it's expensive.

        The problem is that they're extremely slow where your app isn't multithreaded (some algorithms just aren't multithreadable) as the Itanium is just dog slow. Also, despite the high memory, the limitation of inferior (at the time) ATI graphics cards on a non-PCI-express bus didn't help either. So you could have a massive ammount of data in memory, but once you tried to display it, it was slower than on a Sun/IBM/HP opteron box. Lastly, one single byte of dat
    • Mozilla Hardware (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If I were the CEO of SGI, I would take a different tact. SGI is dead, and there is no way to compete in the high-end market for computers and servers. I would follow the route of Netscape.

      Namely, concentrate on the open-source market. Contract with NEC to build a cheap ARM processor on a really old technology using 0.8 micron. Then, build a nice computer around the ARM processor. Use electronic parts that are based on old technology. All the ICs should be 0.8 micron or larger. You can get 0.8-micro

    • Call me a dreamer, but I keep hoping some day these guys will arise from the ashes of HP/Compaq and Intel.

      Damn, don't remind me. I bought a DEC Alpha about 6 months before Compaq trashed them. I kept hoping they'd do something with it but as history shows us that's not going to happen. At least I've had my SGI's longer than 6 months though they're all Indigo2's and Octane's.
    • The problem is this; not the idea of providing an integrated solution; IBM, SUN and HP prove that you can do it quite profitably; the problem with SGI is that they kept thinking they could sell $14000 desktops which barely competed with $5000 intel based workstations.

      The first hits came from SUN in the form of their 'low end' workstations, coupled that with software moving to alternative platforms outside SGI, SGI was stuck in a situation where they chose to stick to their guns rather than standing back, lo
      • by mikael (484)
        The first hits came from SUN in the form of their 'low end' workstations, coupled that with software moving to alternative platforms outside SGI,

        Back in the mid-90's, Microsoft was hyping how "UNIX was legacy, Windows NT is the future". Many animation/game studios were simply interested in finding the cheapest reliable hardware to do the job and were only interested in the price/performance ratio regardless of the OS. SGI management still believed people would be willing to pay extra simply for the brand na
    • Damn you for mentioning Digital, now I've gone all emotional/nostalgic.
      What a fine company they were with fine products. I was lucky enough to get to sign a bunch of NDA's and enter their UK R&D labs back in the late 80's and they had some seriously cool stuff on the way. It was frightening how quickly they fumbled the ball and lost the game though but on the plus side (FX:steely glare at Redmond) it gives us hope in other ways.
  • by vox_soli (990736) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:30PM (#16510211)
    Sheesh. That should be 'death throes'.
    • by setirw (854029) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:36PM (#16510291) Homepage
      Heh... I think the entirety of the Internet is illiterate. Compared to YouTube, Slashdot is actually rather good. If usage patterns on the Internet are indicative of a larger trend, we, as a species, are screwed.
    • by User 956 (568564) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:46PM (#16510405) Homepage
      "Is this a phoenix story or the final death throws of the company?" - Sheesh. That should be 'death throes'.

      No, he was talking about actual "death throws". Like when Steve Ballmer gets ahold of a chair.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ackthpt (218170) *

        No, he was talking about actual "death throws". Like when Steve Ballmer gets ahold of a chair.

        There's a new show for prime time ... celebrity cadaver throwing.

      • by MadUndergrad (950779) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:55PM (#16510513)
        I was thinking more along the lines of that they have to roll a saving throw vs. death. (DC 25)
        • by nuzak (959558)
          The irrelevance bites! The irrelevance bites! The irrelevance bites! The irrelevance bites! You die...
        • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:53PM (#16511079) Homepage
          I think he really meant "Death Row's." Dictation software is a biatch.
          • by StikyPad (445176)
            No dizoubt, but he actually meant "death rose." It's a sweet sort of poetry.
            • by StikyPad (445176)
              Ok, this is just getting ridiculous.

              And stop replying to yourself! I hope you get modded into oblivion for being such a karma whore.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          OMG, I think you've just hit the nail on the head about how senior management do their job.
          1. Senior Exec throws 2 x D6
          2. Looks up chart, adds modifier because it's a Tuesday
          3. 'Decides' to fire experienced engineers and offshore work to India
          4. Companies reputation drops through floor, nasty products in marketplace etc.
          5. Senior exec gets huge bonus for saving money (this year - next year they tank)
          6. Profit! (for senior exec)
          7. Senior exec moves to next company with CV that says they worked at XX
    • I actually wanted to post the same thing.

      If you are going to use a phrase or word that is not in common usage, you should make sure you know what the heck you are talking about.

      A moron who mangles low-brow English isn't a problem. When someone pretends to know what they are doing, they should try a little harder.
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:06PM (#16510651) Homepage Journal
      That most of our parents were married before we were born...
    • If this "death throes" estimate was coming from Dick Cheney, I'd say SGI should have nooooooo problem.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:37PM (#16510295) Homepage Journal
    But we all know that SGI is a lost cause, they company would have to basically fire all of its useless upper management and rehire all the smart people that left years ago to survive in this market.

    SGI stock is not worth the paper it is printed on. (not that they normally print shares anymore)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by moj0e (812361)
      Well, they do have new management now. As far as the smart people...
      they still know their stuff.

      Think of them as a new company, that sells new/different products.
      • by sethstorm (512897) *
        Think of them as a new company, that sells new/different products.

        Yes, but it didnt go well when some other company [sco.com] similarly reinvented itself, selling new "products".
      • by drsquare (530038)
        As far as the smart people... they still know their stuff.


        Yes, but they're all working for other companies now.
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      // (not that they normally print shares anymore)

      Isn't that the point?
  • by themonkman (877464) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:39PM (#16510317)
    ...then I hope to god that they put Irix in line with the OS capabilities of this day. I have to support a small fleet of SGI Octanes running Irix 6.5, and damned if those aren't the slowest and most aggravating machines.
    • by Tiger4 (840741) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:12PM (#16510723)
      The Real Beauty of Irix is in its capbilities on the big multiprocessor Onyx systems. It may be slow on the individual and dual processors, but in a 32 or 64 proc array it is truly wonderful. Slow in some ways, but very efficient in resource usage. The fabled Bowulf cluster technologies are good too, but they aren't really a match for ccNUMA as already implemented on IRIX on SGI machines. If you need that kind of power, it is great stuff.

      In smaller applications, they are in some trouble, no doubt about it. I don't know if the big stuff is enough business to keep them afloat. The evidence to date is not good.

    • I think that's why they were concentrating on the Linux aspect of the company. Someone stated that if they tried to concentrate on IRIX then if they went under there would be zero chance for hardware support but if they went the open source route they would open up the game for both IRIX and Linux since anything could be ported. Besides, didn't they declare the end of the road for IRIX in December?
  • by Speare (84249) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:41PM (#16510341) Homepage Journal
    Plus, old icons [slashdot.org] give kdawson something to play with when he's bored!
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:41PM (#16510347)
    And so are the MIPS family of processors. So are many of SGI's core businesses, like selling to the TV networks (now it's Apple-to-Avid with new stuff that simply buries SGI), stringing clientele along to the tune of numerous significant digits for incomplete and ill-designed systems.

    The fact that they couldn't hold onto employees because their situation was untennable, with so many chiefs and so few worker bees, may now be changed. It's unlikely that their re-emergence from CH11 will do much to save them. Their emporer still has no clothes and is still charging by the pay-per-view model.
  • by techmuse (160085) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:47PM (#16510421)
    If you look at their website, they say pretty clearly that they are now focused on high performance computing and storage devices. You won't see graphics mentioned on there anywhere, except for their soon to be discontinued MIPS workstation lines. They do mention visualization of data sets over networks, and in planetariums, but this is really more of a services offering. The days of buying a high performance graphics workstation from SGI appear to be over for now.
    • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:57PM (#16510547) Homepage Journal

      If you look at their website, they say pretty clearly that they are now focused on high performance computing and storage devices. You won't see graphics mentioned on there anywhere, except for their soon to be discontinued MIPS workstation lines. They do mention visualization of data sets over networks, and in planetariums, but this is really more of a services offering. The days of buying a high performance graphics workstation from SGI appear to be over for now.

      Wouldn't surprise me, but is it really worth all the money to keep this company going to make commodity hardware and storage systems? Any schmuck could do that without starting out with all that debt.

      • by Danathar (267989)
        If it keeps them in buisness long enough to one day come back INTO the graphics market then maybe it WILL be worth it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by StonedYoda47 (732257)
        That's why you go into Chapter 11, in order to get relief from creditors. Without looking at financials or court documents nearly all their secured and unsecured debt should be gone. Of course, so are the employees and alot of their assets to pay for this.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by OneoFamillion (968420)
        Yep, it is Silicon Graphics after all... Unless they only use "SGI" now and smugly change the words it was abbreviated from to "Superb Velocity Industries" or something :P
  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <`slashdot3' `at' `justconnected.net'> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:50PM (#16510449)
    I think it would be great to have another player of graphics. As it is, we only have NVidia and ATI (who both make quality products). However, if there was another player that could do more general-purpose cards (as opposed to gaming), they could probably make some decent money, and indirectly pressure NV and ATI. Maybe open-source drivers? How about a more general-purpose parallel floating-point unit that could be more utilized? Something like the F@H GPU client, but for more apps? As a side effect, it could do graphics.

    This, however, is probably wishful thinking. Oh well...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bishiraver (707931)
      How about a physics coprocessor instead of an entire board?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by slimjim8094 (941042)

        How about a physics coprocessor instead of an entire board?

        Yeah, there's some cycle describing that, about how specialized coprocessors will handle different tasks (much like GPUs), and then merge back into the general-purpose CPU. However, I'm talking about a gfx card, that also happens to be easily programmable (maybe with some driver-level, standard-among-manufacturers, scripting?) so we can do cool things with a massively parallel floating-point processor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JPriest (547211)
      The problem with that idea is that SGI sold [theregister.co.uk] much of their 3D graphics patents portfolio to Microsoft. Most of their best talent has gone to work at other companies and I am sure they have a great deal of catching up to do in terms of R&D if they again want to be a major player. MIPS and IRIX have fallen behind on R&D as well.

      What they do still have is a name, and if their $multi million/year executives are worth the money they make, that will be all they need to get back on the map.

    • by mikael (484)
      How about a more general-purpose parallel floating-point unit that could be more utilized? Something like the F@H GPU client, but for more apps? As a side effect, it could do graphics.
      A regular floating-point processor unit does vector and matrix based calculations with a variety of data types 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit and 64-bit integers.

      The only way to make a floating-point processor unit more general purpose is to give it conditional branching. Then by definition you really just have a second CPU, or a dual
  • Employee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:04PM (#16510633)
    So, speaking as a former SGI Employee (and stockholder). Are my worthless shares still worthless? I used all my shares as tax-write off years ago and prompt forgot about them.

    They did a great job pissing away my 5000 share stake at $25 a share. I was writing that off for five full years and the stock is still worthless. I think from what my accountant said their old shares are offically not worth anything and are just empty bits on a brokerage account somewhere.

    Thanks for the fuckover, sgi.
    • Re:Employee (Score:5, Informative)

      by stevesliva (648202) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:26PM (#16511371) Journal
      In Chapter 11, the shareholders are the last creditors in line. Your shares are still and permanently worthless, and whatever banks SGI was indebted to now own the company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ameline (771895)
      Ouch. That must hurt.

      I only own 100 of the worthless shares. I do have a certificate on my office wall granting me 5000 options at a strike price of $29/share though :-) they were underwater the day I got them, and never really poked their nose up into the air.

      I did do pretty well out of the Alias takeover back in 94/95 -- Paid (mostly) for my house at the time here in Toronto. Gotta love accellerated vesting.

      That was the only time I made money from SGI stock.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:18PM (#16510775) Journal
    Will this reorganization put them back as a player in the graphics game?
    Many years ago, SGI stood for Silicon Graphics Inc. But then the company was officially renamed to SGI. Ie. SGI no longer stands for anything, it's just the company name. It signalled a change in business - the 'g' no longer stands for graphics. For example, there is no mention of "Silicon Graphics" here [sgi.com]. They do appear to use the name "Silicon Graphics" in the names of some of their graphics products. But there's little reason to think that they have any intention of being a major player in the graphics industry.
  • SGI is still dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:26PM (#16510859) Journal
    Sadly, this new announcement doesn't mean much for the 'old' SGI.

    MIPS is gone.
    IRIX is gone.
    SGI is gone.

    SGI has become another company that will create big commodity Linux boxes. Yeah, there's some cool technology behind it, courtesy of Cray (eventually you can track it back to them), but the things that made SGI special aren't there anymore.

    Pity. Oh well, I wish 'em all the best.
  • SGI-lite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bockelboy (824282) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:00PM (#16511151)
    We met with the SGI salesmen the other week. They confirmed the following:

    1) IRIX is dead (SuSE will be used instead)
    2) MIPS is dead (high end chips are itanium)
    3) SGI graphics products are dead (go buy ATI)

    If you're an idiot or a government contracter, they will still specially-engineer such systems for an obscene amount of money (technically, none of these are dead if you are the government with a service contract).

    The new SGI will be selling fancy Itanium systems on the high end and basic Woodcrests linux clusters on the low end.

    SGI still has extensive experience and knowledge building high-processor count boxes that act as a single system image. They're one of the only players who will sell you an entire rack of nice Itanium systems - oodles of processors, RAM, and ultra-large bandwidth - packaged nicely. If a multi-threaded application requiring > 100 GB of RAM is your bread and butter, they're still here for you. They also will integrate FPGAs directly on the same interconnect as your processor - not even IBM is doing that for general customers yet.

    If they are to survive, it's working with these fancy uber-fast, uber-bandwidth interconnects between processors that allow large NUMA computers and having first-mover advantage with Itaniums and FPGAs on a none PCIe/PCI-X bus.

    The only software they will be doing is anything directly related to getting these goals accomplished. No more compilers, debuggers, graphics software, OS, or (probably not) file systems for them. XFS will be maintained (and added to by the community, of course), but don't expect SGI-funded XFS2 to appear any time soon.

    Overall, they've done a damn good job of cutting the fat and coming up with a roadplan for the future. The only downside is the fact they've put so much money into the Itanium that the company would sink if Intel cut the cord.
    • by stox (131684)
      The real question now is, "Can they make money?"

      SGI had very few profitable quarters overs its history. I hope they can turn it around, they made some fine products over the years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ryanov (193048)
      Weren't their compilers really good though?

      I suppose if they were optimized for MIPS it doesn't really matter.
      • Re:SGI-lite (Score:4, Informative)

        by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:15AM (#16512599) Homepage Journal
        The MIPSpro compilers were wicked good at optimizing, easily beating the pants off of GCC, but they were very very picky about your code. Compiling random stuff off of the internet with them was challenging, and it was common to have to fix a bunch of little bugs in the code to get it to compile for you. There were times where a programmer decided he loved some technique and decided to use it everywhere, integrating it into the core of his code. In these cases, porting the program was hopeless. I kept both gcc and MIPSpro on my box just for those situations. Using gcc all of the time was a lousy option though, it produced code 20-50% slower on average, even on the most aggressive optimizer settings (which were buggy in their own right). Of course this was back in the gcc 2.95 days, the difference might not be so pronounced these days, especially since new development on MIPSpro has been dead for years.
  • It's about IPR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by briancnorton (586947) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:32PM (#16511427) Homepage
    SGI still has some really slick tech like NUMA. I work in high-end visualization, and I can tell you that it's tough to get good computers for it. I'd love to see them start combining commodity and proprietary to make new-wave supercomputer hybrids for visualization. The problem is, that like all Unix makers, they think it's better to do everything themselves and lock-in their customers rather than competing. Get over this and they might have something.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:47PM (#16511547) Homepage Journal
    Go and have a look here [sgi.com] if you haven't already. There's some great stuff.

    XFS is an awesome filesystem, and has been ranked the overall best in at least two fs benchmarks:- here [debian-adm...ration.org], and here [linuxgazette.net]. Given what I've read here, I'm possibly considering making it my own default fs...at least for some things.

    There's also some OpenGL related projects, as well as some kernel work. What this could also mean for them is that even if they do have to sell SUSE clusters, they can still have some individuality in the offering. Sure, anyone can burn xfsprogs to a CD...but SGI can still market themselves as the people who invented the fs, and thus the people who are most intimate with the code, and thus who can possibly most quickly/easily extend it, or fix it if something breaks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jedimark (794802)
      XFS is a damn great filesystem.. very fast. even faster if you split the meta data and the storage parts onto seperate physical devices.

      My biggest gripe is the lack of ability to shrink the darn partitions, which is a pain, particulary on top of lvm.

      Because of this, I'm still a fan of reiserfs, it's fast too, and I can grow and shrink the filesystem live, and at will.. it's never let me down yet either. (not that either filesystem is infallable based soley on my personal success rate)

      It's such a shame that
    • by Oddhack (18073) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:46AM (#16513625) Homepage
      Those graphics projects are all dead and rotting. There is no graphics engineering left at SGI. All laid off back in March. The only remaining connection between SGI and OpenGL is that they hold the trademark, but the actual standard now evolves within the Khronos organization, primarily through contributions by ATI, NVIDIA, and Intel.
    • by marsu_k (701360)
      While I have no reason to question the results of those benchmarks, they are made on quite antiquated hardware. Would anyone know any benchmarks done on a bit more current hardware?
  • Maybe if SGI can survive a while longer... maybe they will have the only operating system around that will properly take advantage of new AMD and Intel ( lots-of-core ) chips, and arrays thereof. Seriously, what are you gonna do with an 80 core chip ? Run windows ? :)
  • SGI & cray (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nyph2 (916653) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @11:39PM (#16512405)
    My friends mother used to be a VP at Cray before they merged with SGI. A large portion of the Cray management realized how inept the SGI people were when they got bought, and jumped ship after not too long. It came as no suprise to her when they did a poor job of doing much of anything with Cray & Tera Computer Company bought it off SGI in 2000.

    For an example of the idiocy SGI had, they decided in the early/mid 90's to put in CAT 3 because it was slightly cheaper than CAT 5, only to realize about 2 years later they really did need CAT 5 & had to rip out all of the CAT 3 & replace it.
    Keep in mind at that point CAT 3 really wasnt much cheaper & it was pretty obvious it would be obsolete pretty quickly.

    Unless they really cleaned house & got a lot of new blod in there, SGI's gonna go down again.
  • by 10Ghz (453478) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:35AM (#16513313)
    Few days ago I saw a piece of news in futuretech.blinkenlights.nl which showed loads of Tezros, Fuels, Octanes and other system on their way to be recycled. Brand-new gear, still in their boxes on their way to be destroyed. Maybe they are not competetive anymore in the price-performance arena, but they are still very very cool machines. Was their destruction really the best option here?
  • What I want... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cheetahfeathers (93473) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:48AM (#16513371)
    What I want is for them to design hardware. I don't care about Irix, I don't care about MIPs. I care about how beautifully systems like the O2 came apart and could be put together again. I've yet to see any PC, Apple included, that was so well put together. We need to get past clunky systems with tangles of wires everywhere to get to properly integrated components.
    • Actually, the Mac IIci went together very well. That was a vertical-assembly machine; everything went in with a straight-down move. Including the power supply, which was just pushed in vertically, and engaged alignment guides on the case and connectors on the motherboard.

      Then Apple offshored manufacturing, and design for automated assembly mattered less.

  • From the looks [sgi.com] of things the business model has been shifted out of the graphics market and into the server market. Probably explains why there is no silicon graphics in SGI anymore... From there site:
    "Expanding Focus: Enterprise Data Management
    As it redoubles its focus on solving problems for customers in its core technical markets, the new SGI business model - and its expanded potential within new and existing customer organizations - is built in part around solutions that help enterprises address the
  • The whole story sounds like an episode of ATHF. The ghost of Christmas past from the future shows up, and claims that SGI is back from Chapter 11.

    Frylock gets excited, but ultimately SGI destroys Carl's car.
  • Who'd fund them? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by malachid69 (306291) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:35PM (#16517713) Homepage
    After them dropping my stocks with no compensation, why in the hell would I be willing to buy their stocks again? As far as I am concerned, I was a loyal supporter and they royally screwed me over. Screw SGI.

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