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Silicon Graphics

SGI Linux Servers Coming 49

Found in the files of LinuxToday: Computer Reseller News has an article about SGI being in talks with Linux vendors, hoping to reach an agreement with one, presumably so they can ship it on their upcoming server line. The new servers will be for the telco and ISP markets. As was previously suspected, the company says it will "contribute components" of its technology to the open source community, including OpenGL. Maybe XFS will be in there, too. I've heard it's quite nice...
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SGI Linux Servers Coming

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 1999 @05:59PM (#1914784)
    We don't use OpenGL apps but we rely heavily on SGI for file servers (up to 1.3 TB).

    For us to migrate to Linux based SGI boxen we would need the following IRIX features (or equivalent):

    IRIX XFS (not the X font Server). Or at least a better non-beta 64 bit journaled file system. We often exceed Linux's max file size.....

    IRIX XLV Rock Solid Mirroring, stripping and concatention of hard drives that makes the linux equivalent look like a grad school project. Unfortunately XLV does not do software RAID, and since SGI charges $2,000 to enable the mirroring option, I doubt they will be giving this away soon.

    SGI OpenVault This is not really open, but is a slick API for talking to tape libraries.

    CRAY DMF Cray Data Migration facility. This is complicated (but slick) software that works with "open"vault to make a tape library look like a bigbut hard drive to the user and all applications. So far we have not found anything similar on Linux.

    NFS compatability with IRIX NFS. For some reason (in my experience) SGI-TO-SGI NFS is way-faster than SGI-Linux.

    Ability to run SGI/Irix applications (how fast would a R10000 emulator run on a PIII 500?).

    The last item will never happen (except for nostalgia in a decade or two) but if LInux had a stable 64bit file system, rock solid mirror/stiping, solid NFS3 (w. locking), and software to interface with tape libraries, perhaps it could actually start competing with the big guys in the file server arena........

  • Really this is one of the few features which Linux doesn't have yet. Although work is going on (dtfs and ext3fs), they are nowhere are complete as commercial Unices.

    I'm not sure SGI would want to give Linux a feature which would plug up one of the most complained about features on Linux, fsck times.

    --
  • NFS compatability with IRIX NFS. For some reason (in my experience) SGI-TO-SGI NFS is way-faster than SGI-Linux.

    This may be a "feature" of your PC's bus and ethernet card. Basically the SGI box can send packets to your PC faster than it can generate interrupts to handle them, overrunning the card. There is a section on this in the FreeBSD FAQ and Handbook [freebsd.org]
  • Are you sure your media is still good? I've done many many xfsdumps and xfsrestores without a problem. Plus it is SO much faster than tar.
  • I've done many many xfsdumps and xfsrestores without a problem. Plus it is SO much faster than tar.

    I've seen it (xfsrestore) coredump lots of times on dumps with lots of little files. I was moving 20GB of data from one disk array to another, and had to fall back to GNU tar because xfsrestore kept crashing...

    -Doug

  • 3.2 GB/second is impressive if you know *anything* about modern PC limitations.

    If you don't know [anything], then I can see how that might be pretty boring to you.
  • (Ad hominem subject lines: will Toys > Us be suing me?)

    Tape is still cheaper than HDs for backup. Not everyone finds it tolerable to buy from Bob's Big Discount Drive Book for el cheapo solutions. Imagine storing sequential changes over the course of a year to 1.2 Terabytes of data. How are HDs cheaper? Storing the damn things alone will be problematic. Best to stick with tape, especially if you want a frozen record of prior changes made to an evolving data set over the course of a certain amount of time (months, years, or even a decade or two).

    And for some, "works mostly OK for the most part" simply isn't equivalent to "works right now, for the whole part."
  • Uhm... but these are Intel machines, right? There didn't seem to be a mention of any real hardware in the article.
  • OK, workstations. But the only thing I'm in awe of is that people consider Intel processors to be worth more than the multi-colored cardboard box they come in. I'm not sure why a completely proprietary memory bus and supporting chipset would impress anyone either.
  • I'd guess SGI would want to have it nice and clear what happens if a customer using SGI *hardware* has a stubborn problem that might involve the OS. So it would make sense for SGI to want to be able to say they offer "premium support in conjunction with Red Hat Labs, and SuSE" or whatever.
  • >...hope that SGI too has second thoughts before MIPS vanishes.

    one good thing about the Merced delays is that SGI have extended their MIPS roadmap :)

    Linux/MIPS porting for older SGIs is not exactly flying along tho' :(


    t

  • NT does work on MIPS, though not very good and not on SGI boxen. There was a port made, now unsupported, to some obscure MIPS R3K/R4K workstations made by Acer, Olivetti and such.


    /El Niño
  • The recent announcement contains no mention of
    graphics, but SGI is persuing accelerated graphics
    on several fronts.

    SGI, along with Red Hat, are funding Precision
    Insight to create a Direct Rendering interface,
    this is the same kind of interface that SGI uses
    on their own boxes, to allow the OpenGL hardware
    direct access to a window, without going through
    the X server (except to set up the window).

    There are rumors of several SGI engineers working
    on a volunteer basis to get a Linux that they
    can be proud of working on the new Intel boxes
    (don't call them NT boxes!) It's hard work, but
    remember that almost everybody at SGI is a dyed
    in the wool Unix person from way back, and they
    have the tools, access, authority, and motivation
    to do this.

    I've been buying SGI boxes for 12 years, I hope
    I will still be able to. By Siggraph (mid
    August) we should know what SGI will finally
    do. I'm betting that they'll have a screaming
    Linux w/graphics implementation by then.

  • Not really hard to figure out... SGI, meand badass custom hardware which means bad ass custom drivers for kick ass performance! 2 If they ship Debian, Debian will get mad publicity, or Slackware, or they could ship Red Hat and go with the well known distro.. which would be a mistake Red Hat is not suited for this project I think Debian should be used, no offence to RH
  • OH god, what i owuld do for a box like that!! or anything else with SGI hardware but Linux and SGI? yes please please gimme gime gimme! ok geting weird here, But seriously i wonder what distro will be used, personal vote is Debian, sorry RH, (you are just not suited for this)! No offence but I think RedHat is putting a lot of features into Starbucks that well, arnt quite necessary for this and this needs a more expert-aimed distro (any newbies getting one o these?) Still though I think SGI boxes are at its best in IRIX which is mad cool
  • SGI makes its own hardware. Not intel based AFAIK.


    Not any more, I don't think. IIRC, they spun off MIPS into its own company and are now building workstations based on x86 processors with SGI-style motherboards and memory architectures.


    HP tried embracing Intel and is now having second thoughts. I hope that SGI too has second thoughts before MIPS vanishes.

  • Also SGI's are plain jane intel boxes nowadays(except for the 3d hardware stuff). Subtract the 3d hardware and what does that leave you?


    A non-crippled system architecture.


    Conventional PC architecture is a series of patches on top of patches, with inefficient communications layouts, backwards-compatible cruft, and lowest-common-denominator busses. A PC motherboard is designed to let a single processor control a host of peripherals of varying ages and kludginess. Memory access is set up for a single processor, and is geared towards slow, inexpensive standards. Things like AGP are kludges on top of this system that try to squeeze extra performance out of them by circumventing some of the architectural bottlenecks.


    Workstations, on the other hand, are a different story. They are specifically optimized to allow high bandwidth communications between many processors, lots of memory, and a few peripherals. They can use more-expensive-but-better architectures because they are priced an order of magnitude or two higher than PCs. They are designed to be scalable and to be extremely well optimized for certain classes of task (the type of task depending on the type of workstation).


    So, far from getting a "plain" Intel box, you are getting a decent workstation with crappy processors. IMO, SGI should put the MIPS chips back in.


  • Or was that a troll? If so, I bit.
    --
  • hopefully everything works out. if not, i can picture it now:
    opening the large boc of primo components...putting it together, booting up, and witnessing the fastest computer i've ever used crash under windows nt. a sad, sad day.
    now if only someone could loan (read: _give_) me $25,000 for a wonderful (linux) SGI workstation. one can only dream, or rob a bank.
  • ni!
    for a complete list of hardware and components: http://www.sgi.com
    brief overview:
    1-4 Pentium II or III chips.
    Proprietary memory bus and chipsets, etc. i think that for any other information, the aforementioned website should give you enough information to fill your little heart with awe...
  • SGI says they're doing the brand change so that they can reposition their marketing, and they use NCR as an example of how this could work to their advantage.

    Thing is, it mostly reminds me of KFC. Ever noticed how they never mention what KFC stands for anymore? That's cause people got health conscious, and Kentucky Fried Chicken didn't sound so good anymore.

    Silicon Graphics, Inc doesn't sound so good if you're gonna pitch a server solution to a pointy-haired boss...
    --
  • SGI's servers (AFAIK) use CPUs from MIPS (which SGI owns). They range in number from 1 to a bunch (at SuperComputing '93, I saw a PowerCHALLENGE box with 144 CPUs).

    If they port XFS, that will be REALLY, REALLY cool. XFS has all kinds of neato stuff like journaling (for super-fast fscks) and they also have this thing called GRIO (Guaranteed Rate I/O) where you can allocate a channel to a filesystem that's guaranteed to produce N MB/s... really nice for streaming apps. If SGI can make the transition to Linux across teh board, think of how many resources they could allocate to supporting Linux instead of IRIX... Mmmmm...

    -nate
  • I don't have the experience to comment on wanting XFS. But I'm personally not looking forward to XFS under linux, because it leads me to think of xfsdump, which leads me to think of xfsrestore, which brings me to tears.

    I just went through two consecutive xfsrestore nighmares where it appeared that xfsdump had worked properly, but xfsrestore could not read the backup tape in one case, and only found some of the files in annother case.

    To their credit, SGI's tech support worked *very* hard with us to recover the data. But we never got it back.
  • Judging from their current line of servers, these machines might not have graphics boards in them at all.

    The servers will have graphics (probably not accelerated 3D) since they will be designed to run both Linux and Micro$oft Windoze NT. A headless server would be a more reasonable option if NT wasn't part of the plan.

    check out the press release [sgi.com]

    I hope the server is rackmountable, takes up 4U or less and has an LCDproc [omnipotent.net] compatible display, especially if it's targeted at ISPs.

  • The SGI Linux and NT workstations and servers are /will be Intel based. SGI IRIX servers and worstations are MIPS based. (Linux does not run on MIPS well, NT does not at all) However, all SGI computers will migrate to Intel's Merced chip once it is released supposedly (yes, they will port IRIX to Merced too)
  • Judging from their current line of servers, these machines might not have graphics boards in them at all. My guess is that anything they do with respect to OpenGL will be separate from their server efforts. For example, they might release code and push the acceptance of a 3D graphics architecture on PC-class hardware, but I doubt they will release products which have all of the advantages of their Octane and Onyx lines (bandwidth and accelerated graphics). They charge a premium for these machines, and I doubt they would voluntarily create their own competition.

    Any opinions?
  • Seeing this gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling. SGI puts out some kick ass boxes in the first place. Coupled with Linux there's nothing you couldn't do with those things. You could be running your web server and kicking someone's ass in quake while compiling your new program while cooking breakfast. Sounds nice:)

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