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Reliving The Glory Days of SGI 386

Posted by Hemos
from the could-they-return dept.
devin15 writes "Remember in the '90's when the tech boom was in full swing and SGI was the darling of the 3D graphics industry, whatever happened to those days? Wired is running an article about a group for whom the glory days of SGI have not yet gone. From the article:" If the Mac community is dwarfed by the Microsoft horde, the number of SGI users amounts to a rounding error.""
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Reliving The Glory Days of SGI

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  • by ISEENOEVIL (206770) * on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:39AM (#11072032) Homepage
    One particular quote I found interesting is, ""In the SGI hobbyist world it's not six degrees of separation, it's three, often less. I recently met one of the industrial light and magic guys who worked on Star Wars: Episode II." I find that this happens all the time in the slightly larger Mac crowd. Easy to pick out the users and get an in-depth conversation started. Once you start you find any and all sorts of wierd and useful connections. Heck, thats mainly how I have the current job I have. Also while travelling overseas the other week I ran into a corporate Apple guy that used to work with my boss. Small world definitely, and being an active part of a small, but active community makes it even more personal.

    Glad that there are opportunities for people to keep SGI going. I know I sure have looked at all of those eBay auctions at one time just to see what it was all about. At the current going price on some of the older hardware, I don't see what you have to lose.
    • Yeah...I recently got 4 Indy's dropped into my lap. A friend's company was getting rid of old hardware...I took 4 of them, in mint condition along with a nice SGI 21" monitor.

      I've got one up and running now (thankfully they never set the root password)..and now trying to get it to find the DNS servers...but, almost on the net now. I'm gonna try to keep at least one of them SGI, but, am also reading up on how to net-boot them...going to try to install Gentoo on a couple of them..

      I've been wondering what to

      • I've got one up and running now (thankfully they never set the root password)

        That's okay, it runs Irix. I'm sure you could have found a local 'sploit quickly enough. Irix was famous for its lack of security.

        • "I'm sure you could have found a local 'sploit quickly enough. Irix was famous for its lack of security."

          Yeah...I'd heard that....trying to research this to lock it down as best I can before I put it on the network....

          Do you know of any good info on Irix exploits and how to counteract them?

        • by ari_j (90255) on Monday December 13, 2004 @01:19PM (#11073330)
          I had an Indigo2 get remote-rooted once. Oops. Then we had an Indy in the ACM office for a while. The President and I decided on a root password that, within 2 days, neither of us could remember. It took me nearly 50 seconds to root it without a compiler or network connection, and 30 seconds of that was spent waiting for the guy at the winterm next to me to let me Google for hints.

          Keep it behind a firewall and you'll be fine. The Indy is a nice little box and lots of fun. I suggest keeping Irix on it, as half of the SGI experience is running Irix. I don't get people who buy every esoteric piece of hardware they can find and run the same OS on it as they do on their PC.
  • Great styling. (Score:5, Informative)

    by deletedaccount (835797) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:43AM (#11072057)
    The best thing about SG workstations was(is) that they came in funky blue or green boxes rather than beige. And this was years before Apple caught onto the idea and applied it to the iMac.
    Oh, they were pretty good at their job, but perhaps that's just a coincidence.
    • by IANAAC (692242) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:54AM (#11072135)
      And had a snazzy start-up horn riff too.
    • Re:Great styling. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by _mythdraug_ (27158)
      I think the color word you are looking for is "Indigo".
    • Re:Great styling. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drgonzo59 (747139) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:54AM (#11072646)
      I think they failed because they didn't sense the change in the PC market. Back in the early and up to mid 90's professional 3D graphics and visualization was synonimous with SGI. I worked for a company that developed one of the major CAD/CAE/CAM product and everyone on their desk had an SGI. If you were a co-op like me you had an older one, if you are the manager you had a R12000 one with 1Gb or ram. In the basement in the "vault" we had a quad R12000 with 4 Gb or ram to crunch huge matrices for CAE. Then around the year 2000 consumer 3D graphics cards and CPUs became more and more powerful and caught up with SGI's products. I could spend about $1000 and get a PC that was 3 times as fast as the SGI on my desk at work which was probably bought for $4000. SGI just couldn't stay ahead of the market and they never lowered the prices to make their machines competitive with PC. I still don't know many people who have or had an SGI at home, they were just too darn expensive.
      Another thing is, after the tech bubble burst companies that before had plenty to spend all of the sudden had to cut corners, and one of the corners were the very expensive SGI workstations that could be replaced by Linux boxes or Windows PCs.
      • Re:Great styling. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by flaming-opus (8186) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:37PM (#11072953)
        No. They saw it coming. There just wasn't much of anything to do about it. Even IBM and HP are unprofitable because of dell and sony.

        How is SGI going to compete on their volume? not at all. Workstations just aren't a big enough market. They tried, remember the visual workstations (SGI, xeons + WinNT) I don't think there's anything they could have done. Lost cause.
      • Re:Great styling. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Monday December 13, 2004 @01:04PM (#11073201) Homepage
        I ran old SGI systems for a few years and really loved them. I was never really into the graphics stuff, because most of the software was way too expensive, and the cheap software (Blender) was incomprehensible. But I loved the machines and used them for web stuff. Sure, they were allegedly insecure, but you could tighten them up pretty easily, and nowadays all the breakins are automated exploits of commodity systems. So now I'd say a SGI is a lot more secure than the average system just because they have such a tiny market share.

        I thought the operating system and GUI were really slickly designed at the time. They certainly had the most attractive implementation of virtual desktops I've ever seen. Linux has them, but not with the style SGI does and I have to admit that style wins points with me - especially when Linux was still lost in the world of horrible, unreadable fonts while SGI did a great job making them legible and attractive.

        But then came Apple and MacOS X, which really showed the world what a truly slick Unix desktop could be like, and I switched almost immediately, leaving my Windows, SGI and Linux machines in the dust. After all, Apple could do it all in one slickly designed system.

        I'm sorry SGI never took off; I think they could have been a nice consumer alternative if they could have figured out how to keep costs down. I tried to install Mozilla on my old Indigo2 about six months ago and I got bogged down in dependencies and quit, so it's just sitting in the corner.

        People talk about proprietary systems being bad, and the future being in open systems and commodity hardware. And there are bad things about proprietary systems, but I love the spirit that created them, the desire to create something that was designed, not built out of tinkertoy blocks. The desire to create something where the operating system and hardware were built together in one seamless, coherent way.

        Because of this, I shed a tear for the proprietary systems, built when men were men, women were women, and computers were something special instead of crudely-designed commodities.

        Those days, of course, live on in the Apple world. Which, if you think of it, may be the best of both worlds - the price has been forced down by commodity machines, but it's still very much a sleek, designer experience.

        Because after all, that's what I want a computer to be: Something special.

        D
      • Re:Great styling. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Monday December 13, 2004 @01:39PM (#11073523)
        No, that's really the opposite of what happened. "Rocket Rick" Belluzzo saw the shift in the market, but he reacted to it in precisely the wrong way. Rather than trying to develop subversive technologies to undermine the PC market shift, Belluzzo decided to try to outsource SGI's workstation business, turning it into just another PC manufacturer.

        Right now, companies like ILM are tearing out SGI workstations and replacing them with ultra-cheap desktops. They're taking advantage of the ability to work with low-resolution proxies in real time and then render jobs overnight on the big iron. That's a good workflow for that environment.

        SGI should have been their first. They had the big iron --nobody has bigger iron, even now; SGI's supercomputers are more scalable than anybody's. They should have developed software frameworks that facilitate remote rendering of graphics operations. How? I don't know; I'm not a graphics expert. But they should have been first on that block. Then SGI could have gone to a company like ILM and said, "We'll sell you a thousand server processors and a thousand one-processor desktops for five million bucks."

        Instead, SGI said, "Fuck the desktop. The server business will boom forever!" Which was a huge mistake.

        SGI's failure is that they tried to adapt to the dominant paradigm instead of recognizing its limits and engineering ways to get around them. They reacted instead of created. And they lost vast sums of money in the process.
        • Re:Great styling. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by demachina (71715)
          "I'm not a graphics expert."

          Probably the only thing I agree with in this post but it didn't stop you from pretending like you knew what you were talking about.

          ""Rocket Rick" Belluzzo saw the shift in the market, but he reacted to it in precisely the wrong way."

          Actually Jim Clark saw the same shift coming long before Beluzzo got there. He knew the PC was going to cream SGI on the desktop and he was telling everyone at SGI that, they didn't want to hear it, they drove Clark out and he made a fortune on Ne
  • Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by shlomo (594012) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:48AM (#11072093)
    I was at a confernce in orlando last week, and there was a parallel conference which seemed to be mostly military simulation stuff, they seemed to be pretty strong there. Guess they moved to the more lucrative stuff.
    • Military Simulation (Score:5, Informative)

      by JWhitlock (201845) <John-Whitlock AT ieee DOT org> on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:08PM (#11072744)
      I was at a confernce in orlando last week, and there was a parallel conference which seemed to be mostly military simulation stuff, they seemed to be pretty strong there. Guess they moved to the more lucrative stuff.

      That was probably the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference. [iitsec.org]

      I wouldn't look to military simultion for an example of a growth area. Some of the simulators are as old as the planes themselves, 30 years and older, with upgrades every three to five years to keep them up to date. FORTRAN is still the universal language, or at least the F77 dialect. C is starting to take over, but slowly, and Ada still has a sizable presence. In general, technologies and practices lag five to ten years behind the rest of the commerical world.

      On the other hand, it is fairly secure work if you can get it. Lots of people can start in simulation and retire in it, which isn't true of a lot of industries. If you can get a security clearance, you are in even better shape.

      So, don't worry about international outsourcing - just become a military contractor!

  • I miss SGI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by poptones (653660) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:48AM (#11072096) Journal
    I learned the power of u??x on an SGI workstation about ten years ago. Being stuck on a 386sx system running dos at home I longed for an Irix machine of my own.

    I saw this article last week and enjoyed reading it, but at the end I was still left wondering "WHY?" I love old radios and stereo gear so I'm not unappreciative of the nostalgia aspect, but my linux desktop now is, in most ways, just as fulfilling as the old irix system I grew to love.

    They're cool looking computers, but in the end that entire stack of SGIs shown in the fellow's home office probaby has about as much power as the Nvidia/AMD box sitting on my desktop. In the end I'd rather have something gorgeously deco [eugenesargent.com] that I could keep around for years and upgrade as needed.
    • Re:I miss SGI (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ford Prefect (8777) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:04AM (#11072209) Homepage
      They're cool looking computers, but in the end that entire stack of SGIs shown in the fellow's home office probaby has about as much power as the Nvidia/AMD box sitting on my desktop.

      A few years ago now, I had access to an old Silicon Graphics machine - a Indigo 2, or something like that. It was quite fun being able to mess around with what had originally been an incredibly expensive machine, and of playing with another UNIX I hadn't used. I even got Blender running on it...

      Of course, the machine (well, IRIX) promptly killed itself, and nobody knew the equivalent of the BIOS password to allow reinstallation from the IRIX CDs and bootable SCSI CD-ROM drive we'd spent weeks hunting down. There turned out to be no way of resetting that password, at least not without wiping the MAC address too. Given that the machine was only useful as an X terminal and web browsing machine, it didn't seem worth doing.

      Looking inside, at the multi-boarded graphics subsystem covered with huge custom-built chips, it seemed rather sad that even a bargain-basement PC of the time would have massively outperformed it. And now, when I run Half-Life 2 on my current, elderly PC, complete with all sorts of per-pixel shaders and suchlike thanks to its inconceivably powerful (yet obsolete) Geforce 4, I think about how impressed I'd been by a couple of gouraud-shaded polygons...

      The only thing I really miss is the screensaver. I forget what it was called, there's an attempted simulation in Xscreensaver called 'stonerview' or similar, but it's nowhere near as good as the original. :-)
      • Re:I miss SGI (Score:3, Informative)

        by CarrionBird (589738)
        AFIAK the way around that problem is to stick in a drive with a working IRIX install, and run a utility as root that would reset that PROM password.

        I have a similar problem, a working Indigo (1) that I don't know the password for the OS or the PROM. The only thing I can think of is to slap a SCSI card in my PC and compile SGI filesystem support into a kernel. Then I could rewrie the passwd file. A lot of work for an old system.

      • Re:I miss SGI (Score:5, Informative)

        by RageEX (624517) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:40AM (#11072534)
        > Of course, the machine (well, IRIX) promptly killed itself,

        Most likely user error.

        > and nobody knew the equivalent of the BIOS

        SGI's have a PROM, it's pretty slick.

        > password to allow reinstallation

        Most SGIs have a jumper to reset the PROM password. It's a FAQ that should take 10 seconds to figure out. It's also in the user manual which if you don't have you can download off of techpubs.sgi.com. You could also have posted on any of the comp.sys.sgi groups and after people flame you for asking a FAQ someone would tell you what to do.

        > from the IRIX CDs and bootable SCSI CD-ROM
        > drive we'd spent weeks hunting down.

        I've never had a SCSI CD-ROM that wouldn't boot IRIX. Any Toshiba drive will work.

        > There turned out to be no way of resetting
        > that password, at least not without wiping
        > the MAC address too. Given that the machine
        > was only useful as an X terminal and web
        > browsing machine, it didn't seem worth doing.

        Sad indeed because all you needed to do was set a jumper.

        This is one of the reasons I don't listen to most people's opinions unless it's pretty clear they're experts. It makes more sense to figure it our yourself. Too many times I hear people have immense difficulty or distaste for something and the reason is because they don't know what they're doing. Kinda like the people in infomercials who can't chop an onion or coil up a garden hose or rake leaves.

        Or maybe it's more like a Ferrari. Lottery winners will abuse their high performance cars and then complain when something goes wrong ("stupid imported piece of junk!"). In fact this is so common many long-time Ferrari owner's have a name for these type of people: gold-chainers.

        To be sure SGI systems have their quirks but most of the negative things you hear about them are not true. I'd encourage people to pick one up and see for themselves but then I don't want to drive up prices ;)
        • Re:I miss SGI (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ford Prefect (8777)
          Most SGIs have a jumper to reset the PROM password. It's a FAQ that should take 10 seconds to figure out.

          Done a quick bit of research - it would appear it was an Indigo, not an Indigo 2 - one of the few machines without the jumper.

          And yes, I did download the user manual, ask on the SGI newsgroups, and I even consulted the university's SGI administrator for his advice. The general response? Get IRIX booting in order to run the appropriate password-reset utility, or the machine is unusable.

          So, we borrowed
          • Re:I miss SGI (Score:3, Informative)

            by RageEX (624517)
            Indeed the Indigo is much trickier to reset the PROM password. What you have to do then is remove the graphics and CPU board to get to the backplane and you can ground one pin on the EEPROM. As you can imagine it requires alot of care.
      • That's the problem, anything vaguely interesting and proprietry has fallen by the wayside simply due to development costs.

        SGI failed to keep up with CPU developments and were stuck with MIPS and Alpha based systems. Two rather dead platforms (MIPS are used in consoles like the PS2 though).

        They did venture into the NT market and their x86 hardware was still unique as it featured UMA instead of memory buses. But was the hardware cost justifiable? probably not.
    • The problem with SGI was that at least the low-end Indies really sucked, at least compared to contemporary PCs, especially given their high pricing.

      When I joined a friend's startup in '94 we where mightily proud to get an entry-level Indy for a super-special academic discount (we were still an academic group when we bought the machine) for 16000 DM (about 8000 EUR today). I was absolutely in love with the machine until we purchased six months later our first P5/90 for less than a quarter of the price. Runn
  • I think the publicity SGI got from this end of the business helped the rest of their business. They'd probably disagree, at least at the point they got out of the business.

    But via the publicity from this ariticle, /., and others talking, maybe SGI will re-think this. Heck any loss they get from low sales will be offset by the overall corporate business increase, I bet. It's worth the shot.

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:50AM (#11072118) Journal
    From the article:
    Now, the company at best tolerates the hobby community, turning a blind eye to sales of secondhand software, which is forbidden by user agreements.
    With assinine "agreements" (like if they did give you the choice...) like that that bind the hands of their customers, it's not wonder that they go down the drain!!!
    • With assinine "agreements" (like if they did give you the choice...) like that that bind the hands of their customers, it's not wonder that they go down the drain!!!
      What, you mean like Microsoft, Adobe and MacroMedia? Their agreements are a lot worse, and they seem to be doing fine...
  • It's not just SGI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vasqzr (619165) <vasqzrNO@SPAMnetscape.net> on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:52AM (#11072122)

    The whole 'UNIX workstation' market is gone.

    Sun? SGI? HP? DEC?

    Computers became powerful and inexpensive too fast. Clusters killed the big servers.
    • by IANAAC (692242) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:57AM (#11072157)
      Computers became powerful and inexpensive too fast.

      You think so? Or was it a case of the UNIX workstation companies not evolving quickly enough to mach price/performance?

      • Re:It's not just SGI (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Junta (36770)
        I think this is really the heart of the matter.

        Companies used to buy high-priced workstations because they really got their money's worth in terms of differences with respect to 'commodity' PCs. PCs were of course more expensive, and reliability of hardware and software (Linux was immature/nonexistant depending on time period, Windows before W2k was too flaky to seriously consider a contender), and the performance was crappy. Professional workstations ran good, solid OSes, had clean system designs overal
    • Gee, I think Apple [apple.com] would disagree.

    • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:12AM (#11072275)
      #1. Their machines are still propietary. they are using their using Altix system but require an ATI FireGL card. ummm.. no thanks. which brings us to #2. #2. we are now using exclusively windows and linux. my machine(our machines) run faster, smoother and have the latest openGL libraries, functionality. when we want to get a new GPU we get one, take out the old card and plug the new one in. #3. $$$$.. and lots of it. lets say you want to get a cluster with 5 CPU's, along with a host node. each node has a Geforce 6800, 4GB of RAM, 3.6 Ghz CPU's, you buy the software for it, and all the outs and ins of the system. on average this system will cost you $80,000. to buy one SGI box that is inferior to this cluster, even a small SGI supercomputer would not outperform it plus just the MAINTENANCE on this SGI will cost you $80,000 or more per year. this is what it would cost to REPLACE your old cluster after just one year with the latest graphics cards, latest processors and you still have maintenance that costs nothing compared to that. i think we can all agree what the obvious choice of computing power is.
      • There are still a very large number of situations where a "cluster" does not work. In some modeling and simulation area's they need a lot of CPU's on ONE OS image.. To make a blanket statement saying that clusters are the answer is either someone lacking experience or bias.. Before deciding what the solution is you have to figure out what you are trying to do..

        In our shop we have many large SGI's (128CPU +), IBM Regatta's, Sunfire's, Linux Clusters, and Sun Clusters. They each solve the requirements for
        • well i didnt mean to say that clusters are the answer to everything b/c clusters are even now in their infant stages. i do have some experience and am not biased. i have found that a LOT of shops that once used to be an SGI only shop are the ones that do intense state of the art graphics programming, such as supercomputing centers doing openGL applications, this included gov't and private sectors and businesses. they have , most of them swapped to an only Linux/Windows shop b/c its cheaper, in most cases fa
    • Re:It's not just SGI (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      Really? They why is Sun an IBM still selling Unix workstations? I admit some Unix workstations are now running AMD and Intel cpus but they are still workstations running Unix or Linux.
      As to Clusters killing the big server? Nope. IBM is selling a good number of there Z-machines and the I series also seems alive and kicking.
      Clusters are great systems for some problems while while lots of cheap boxes are good for there problems line web front ends. For Databases an IBM Z-server running DB2 is killer. Uptime th
      • IBM and Sun are hanging in the workstation business because they are making CPUs still. IBM's POWER architecture is thriving, especially with Mac and soon XBox variants giving them mass market reach. Sun, well, I don't know how they do it.
    • WTF do workstations and clusters have in common?

      It's like you had two different thoughts, and they accidently collided in the same post ;-)
    • by fitten (521191)
      I agree with you to some degree, with some side notes:

      Linux has probably done more to hurt that industry as help it. Sure, you have IBM and others dealing in Linux on their servers but all of those others that still exist are either gone or are so specialized that few/no new customers are coming to them.

      As far as Sun, except for a few applications that are basically binary only Solaris, there's no real reason to buy a SPARC based machine today either. Linux + Intel/AMD has the basic workstation UNIX wor
      • "As far as Sun, except for a few applications that are basically binary only Solaris, there's no real reason to buy a SPARC based machine today either. Linux + Intel/AMD has the basic workstation UNIX workstation market covered (and for much cheaper prices)."

        While I agree with you largely...there is one BIG exception to this...the US Gov. And they're a pretty big customer. You can't get them to commit to use Linux for a large project..although it sneaks in here and there...largely if you're going to do a

    • No offense, but I'm trying to figure out what's insightful about this post. The Unix workstation market is gone? I would say the Unix workstation market is still performing very well in its intended market.

      I work for a major MCAD company, and we still develop for Sun, IBM, and HP workstations. One customer comes to mind that buys thousands of Sun seats, and you can bet they're buying the latest workstations.

      And yes, we also port to 64-bit linux and 32-bit/64-bit Windows. The market is beginning to move

    • It's fair to say every unix version has one good thing going for it.

      Sun - good os
      Sgi - great cxfs and decent graphics
      HP - scales well

      But you notice the problem, not one platform dominates enough to destroy the competition.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:52AM (#11072124) Homepage Journal
    I have an Indy that I picked up free, and the real problem is support.

    I'd like to get a more up-to-date version of Irix on it, but going from the 6.5.0 disks that I have to the most current releases is a pain. A big pain. A pain that makes the most b0rk3d RPM install look like a hot bath with a supermodel.

    I don't want a full support contract from SGI - for a 150MHz machine that would be a total waste of time and money.

    What I'd *love* would be a way to get a set of current disks for, say US$30, with the disclaimer "You are on your own. Don't call us, we won't call you."

    I've been looking at putting Linux on it, just to have a bit more "support" on the machine. Now that the video subsystem is a bit better supported I may just do that.
    • by BWJones (18351) * on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:13AM (#11072288) Homepage Journal
      I had an Octane. Great system, but like you said the support costs were crazy. A support contract was costing me as much as a new G5 every year , so........I replaced it with a G5. The system architecture is like the Octane with completely separate busses for I/O, memory, CPU, storage etc.... and is actually a fair bit faster than the Octane.

      Additionally, IRIX while very powerful, can be troublesome. When I let the support contract run out on my O2, I had a video card go bad and damn!, it took me a whole day to replace the card and get IRIX to recognize things again. OS X is soooo much more plug and play. If you like *nix, give OS X a try.

    • by jandrese (485) *
      Why not just download them from http://support.sgi.com [sgi.com]? Supportfolio accounts are free and provide access to OS updates. The latest version is...(checks account)...6.5.26. Since you already have the 6.5 CDs you can just install 6.5.0 and then using inst or swmgr to upgrade to 6.5.26. The harest problem I've run into is running out of drive space during the upgrade (SGI likes to stick tiny OS disks on their machines--especially those old ones).

      inst (and its X frontend swmgr) are among the best software
      • Oh, wait, you didn't get the support contract. I misread your post. You'll only be able to upgrade to 6.5.22 at the current time (this is not a big deal).
      • inst (and its X frontend swmgr) are among the best software installation managers I've ever used.

        Then your experience is vastly different than mine.

        I have downloaded the updates from SGI. However, when I attempt to install them, inst wants to remove just about everything it can from my system - like the main software operating environment!

        Yes, I have opened all the original disks as well as the updates - still swmgr wants to remove all sorts of things. Dependancy hell times 1E6!

        I would KILL for Synap

    • You can download Irix 6.5.24 (I think) for free from the SupportFolio site (http://support.sgi.com [sgi.com]). Just create an account and you'll have access to these updates. I have two O2 myself [ag0ny.com] (an R12000 and an R5000) and the Irix 6.5 CDs, so I used the updates on that site to get to 6.5.24.
    • "I've been looking at putting Linux on it, just to have a bit more "support" on the machine. Now that the video subsystem is a bit better supported I may just do that.",

      I'm looking at trying THIS Install [gentoo.org] ...

      I'm reading up now on the net-boot procedure and setup as that is new to me, and my Indy's doing have any floppy/CD with them...

    • I got an Indigo for FREE and thought it was so cool. Until I found out the OS was prohibitivly expensive, even today. Even IRIX 5.3 was more expensive than what I got for the box on eBay.

      On and as for Open Source support, the ONLY SGIs that are supported are the O2s and their support is fledgling at best.

      SGI boxes are beautiful and (for their time) powerful... but face it they're worthless to the hobbyist market.
  • by Woogiemonger (628172) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:55AM (#11072142)

    When it comes to video, a $2,000 Mac still doesn't have the same capabilities as an SGI machine.

    I thought Macs are known for their media handling capability. The fact that you can get one of those 10+ year old SGI machines for dirt cheap now and get better video editing is a bit shocking. Then again, the quote includes the word "capabilities", so perhaps that does not necessarily reflect performance/processing speed.

    • When I got my SGI Indys I was blown away by the fact that it had about the same multimedia port options as my then brand new PC, I'm talking 1.5 grands worth of computer here, nice graphics card, sound card etc. And yet the 1996 SGI Indy workstations had pretty much the same: video out/inputs, sound, on-board ethernet, sterescopic goggles, SCSI I think too and others that I just don't know what the hell they are.

      In terms of number crunching a modern computer blows it way by a massive factor, but for the a
    • by TomorrowPlusX (571956) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:29AM (#11072449)
      My understanding is that SGI had some hairy X11 extensions -- obviously tailored for their hardware -- which made for video performance that nobody could touch.

      This is the trouble with "generic" computers/OSs such as Mac and the PC -- they're aiming at doing everything, and accordingly, they cannot excel at any one thing like a specifically designed machine/OS can.

      That said, Macs still spank PCs at video and typography, and PCs still spank Macs at games and.. I guess.. office. There's some specialization in the Mac and PC world, just not as balls-to-the-wall as SGI.

      On a side note, I used to do texture mapping for the early incarnation of the Alice project ( www.alice3d.org, but back in '96 when it was still at UVa ). We used an SGI Reality Engine, and it made my hairs stand up it was so powerful. I remember once I crashed it -- by accidently pressing the middle button on the haxored broken mouse which was taped and labeled "Don't press me" -- and we had to go to the server room to reboot it. This was my first exposure to a *real* computer, and seeing that it was rebooted by turning a key blew my mind.

      I have to say, though, that crashing a server by clicking the (admittedly broken) middle mouse button on a terminal is pretty appalling. Something was clearly Very Wrong in the setup.
    • by saha (615847) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:08PM (#11072745)
      This is very true. Macs are very good for many tasks, but they are weak when it comes to advanced 3D visualization because of lack of high end gfx cards from vendors (I speculate no thanks to the ADC connector which added futher complexity for manufacturing for the small Apple market), which results in lack of 3D visualization software in this field. A month ago I recommended several platforms to an assoc. professor at IIT India looking to set up a virtual reality lab. My suggestions were SGI, Windows, Linux (Macs where not an option). The fact is that Apple doesn't have any of the top end gfx cards from Nvidia, ATI nor 3DLabs with genlock/framelock capabilities causes ISV not to develop for the OS X platform. I haven't found any V.R. software for the Mac OSX like VR Juggler, EON Reality ... etc yet. I did email Steve Cox at 3D Labs for the possiblity of having a Wildcat Realizm card for the Apple platform and been asking TGS about their OpenInventor and Amira 3D software for OS X.

      Heck, I use a Powerbook G4 for most of my tasks these days and my SGI O2 and SGI 320 NT box in my office are used little these days, but the Macs do lack some advanced hardware features that are only available on Infinite Reality gfx boards and Tezro v12. See Discreet's website and you'll notice that Flame, Inferno and Fire still run on ONLY SGI hardware. SGI InfiniteReality boards are used as image generators for flight military flight simulators and also to drive the Inferno compositing and film mastering, using up to 32 film resolution layers and 10-bit anti-aliased graphics

      Sure, Nvidia and ATI cards go have an polygon count advantage and they do have features like pixel and vertex shaders, but overall for high fidelity graphics one still goes back to SGIs. If one looks at what is capable in Final Cut Pro HD, it still falls in terms of output quality compared to what an SGI can handle. For video DMediaPro options with support for two streams of high-definition 10-bit 4:4:4:4 RGBA video. Or if one needed to generate your own video signal. Programmable FPGA video card or drive a C.A.V.E. or Powerwall SGI Mutichannel Option cards are capable of doing this. I have yet to see PC based Image Generator be as successful at doing this without a lot of hacking, blood, sweat and tears. SGI's handle the tough visualization tasks do out of the box. SGI's gfx API are second to none

      OpenGL Inventor

      OpenGL Multipipe (+ SDK)

      OpenGL Optimizer

      OpenGL Performer

      OpenGL Shader

      OpenGL Vizserver

      OpenGL Volumizer

      ImageVision and Image Format Library (IFL)

      SGI was a great company, although it was badly mismanaged. I'd love to see it merged with Apple and all the SGI gfx API's integrated into OS X. Plus other tecnologies like ccNUMA, XFS, CXFS, NUMAlink4 (6.4GBs), NUMAflex combined with Hypertransport and Infiniband (when customers need cheaper solution than NUMAlink)

  • My main problem... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by un1xl0ser (575642)
    I find that inst, even in the newer releases of IRIX, makes installing an IRIX system a chore.

    Using their latest release and overlays I still have dependencies that can not be met. It can be frustrating to anyone who is used to a sane installer, like the ones provided with Solaris, HP-UX and most Linux distros.

    Filesystems were not recreated sometimes when I made the install, and configurations were left on the system. I'm not a Unix god, but that is not how most operating systems install, or how I think t
  • IRIS Workstation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amightywind (691887) on Monday December 13, 2004 @10:58AM (#11072163) Journal

    Remember in the '90's when the tech boom was in full swing and SGI was the darling of the 3D graphics industry, whatever happened to those days?

    I used an SGI Iris 24 bit color workstation with a 21" monitor back in 1990. I still get misty thinking about it. We used them for computational chemistry and visualization. Shading, transparency, GL had it all even back then. Coming as I did from a Vax 750 background, this was pretty amazing. The workstation came with a flight simulator to show off GL graphic power. These were beautiful machines, solid, well engineered. The aethetics have not been surpassed to this day. Sadly, some business guy tried to turn SGI into a PC company, and they alienated their devoted scientific and engineering users. Same thing happened to Sun except they sold out to corporate IT and big iron.

    • And of course, the BEST best part of the 1990 SGI was that you could play the flight simulator in dogfight mode (assuming you had more than one SGI on the network)

      One evening, I went to dinner with a friend, but we forgot who was driving, and both ended up drunk. (one car at the restaurant, one at the office)
      We took a cab back to work and flew P38s in dogfight mode until we sobered up. Don't do this without a helmet, or at least don't use swivel chairs.
    • Sadly, some business guy tried to turn SGI into a PC company, and they alienated their devoted scientific and engineering users.

      Believe it or not, that same guy after trying to get SGI to switch to Windows then went to work for Microsoft. Seriously!

      • by imroy (755)

        Jeff Belluzo, or however his name is spelt. I read recently that before SGI he was the CEO of HP (or DEC? somewhere) and had pretty much done the exact same thing there as well.

        Hey, lets drop our great Unix-on-RISC machines and make Wintel PCs! We'll lose control of most of the hardware and software, and be competing with every other beige-box maker! We'll still charge more though, for our brand-name and support. That is, until everyone wises up. Sounds like a great plan! Lets hear it for conformity an

    • Re:IRIS Workstation (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pope (17780) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:50AM (#11072613)
      Sadly, some business guy tried to turn SGI into a PC company,

      He did the same thing at HP and/or DEC, and later went on to a nice high executive position at Microsoft. Coincidence? I think not!

  • sgi glory... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:00AM (#11072180) Homepage
    I remember when @home went belly up. the headend was packing up the SGI servers that @home had there and I pulled the SGI case badge off of one of them.

    I still get funny questions from friends that notice it on my antec case at home and is the best looking company/equipment logo I have ever seen.

    I always wanted an Octane, but they are still going for insane prices on ebay, and today it really is not worth tinkering with anymore.
  • It was interesting to read the article as I started off my UNIX Systems Administrator career in the broadcast arena. Back then, all graphics were done on SGIs. I learned "UNIX" by reading the SGI manual.

    However, the article completely failed to acknowledge the stronghold SGI has in scientific 3D molecular visualization and crystallography. Most of those apps are being rewritten for Linux and *BSD, but if you go somewhere like NIH, you'll find a very large population of SGIs. I'd guess the support contr
    • As a crystallographer, let me say that SGI had better not be depending on those support contracts. Crystallography and scientific visualization is running away from SGI as fast as it can. In the last few years support from SGI has dwindled more and more quickly, and it's now painfully obvious that they just don't give a damn about us, even though we still have a service contract. Needless to say, we don't plan on renewing the contract. Our lab has set up a few linux workstations to replace dying SGIs, and g
      • Upon re-reading my comment, I think I was a little harsh on SGI's support. We've always gotten what we asked for. Sometimes is was a little late in coming. And sometimes we wondered why we even needed to ask (e.g. DVD-ROM support in mid-2004). And sometimes it's taken a lot of back-and-forth to really get a solution. But, in their favor, SGI has always been decent about supporting their platform. They just can't keep up with an army of talented volunteer pros and hobbyists.
  • I just came into posession of two teal Indigo2 boxen last week, and I gotta admit that if you're the kind of person who can have some nostalgic fun playing with a C64, an SGI box is an amazing thing to own. I lost a few hours this weekend just toying around with the demos that came with the OS.

    It's also pretty surprising how responsive the thing is - about the only thing I've found so far that can make one of these babies start thrashing is a newer version of Oracle. If I can just sort out this little Ho
    • If I can just sort out this little Holy War I've been waging with IRIX 6.2's DHCP client (and its networking set-up in general), the workstation could very well end up being a computer that I use for real work.

      Why not install 6.5.x on it? It runs quite well as long as you can keep yourself from installing everything that seems like it might be useful..

      Also, the DHCP client is quite odd, not to mention that if you boot IRIX with a serial console it seems to like to reset things a couple of reboots later,

      • Mostly because it only has an R4k/150 CPU, and because I've heard that 6.5 drops support for the Cosmo board.
    • If I can just sort out this little Holy War I've been waging with IRIX 6.2's DHCP client (and its networking set-up in general), the workstation could very well end up being a computer that I use for real work.

      Irix 6.2's DHCP client (Proclaim I believe it's called?) sucks. If you install all of the patches, I believe it will function correctly, but as it installs off the disk, it will happily retreive all of your network setup data and store it in a file in /var/somethingorother, but only set the IP - n

  • by dfn5 (524972) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:07AM (#11072233) Journal
    I believe the beginning of the end was when they started puting windows on their machines.... and I don't mean X11.

  • I was working in a simulation firm when the times shifted for SGI. We had some SGI RE2's that cost us about 200k £, expencive stuff in other words. My boss gave me an assignment in 1996 to find a graphics card for PC's that we could run our simulator on, and I heard rumour about a company with ex SGI guys that had started to make graphics cards for the PC market. I got the stats for a new SLI card they had made, and was asoniced of what they had in fillrates and such. My co-workers frowned at the stat
  • It's called NVIDIA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ginbot462 (626023)
    Back when SGI's best people split and left to form 3DLABS (or NVIDIA - Forget which. I am sure someone out there will point out that I could have looked it up, but I don't care - my point is still valid), the heads at SGI didn't want to sell just a Video Card. So all those talented people decided to leave and make globs of money (and my 6800 and I thank them!). SGI only wanted to sell their overly priced 100% solution. And by the time they did sell PCs, it was overpriced and way too late.
    • Many, many acorns... (Score:2, Informative)

      by burnttoy (754394)
      Although not actually Acorn.

      SGI helped grow (accidently - probably by being too short termist) MANY graphics firms. 3dfx had a good number of ex-SGI staff, nVidia has oodles of them, some are at MS working on D3D (when SGI dropped the ball on OpenGL - it didn't keep up the the HW), 3DLabs has a couple but 3DLabs was always a competitor of SGI (and 6000 miles away!). Most famously is ArtX who I _think_ did the GPU for the Gamecube but are now wholey owned by ATi. Many of the ArtX team had worked on the RIP
  • Jurassic Park (Score:5, Informative)

    by myusername (597009) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:22AM (#11072367)
    Don't forget SGI's big moment in Jurassic Park!

    "This is a Unix system. I know this." - Lex.

    http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~lloyd/tildeImages/F ilm/JPark/ [monash.edu.au]

  • by wayward_son (146338) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:23AM (#11072378)
    In 1997, Clemson University spent a couple hundred thousand dollars on a state of the art network of SGI-O2's and a very expensive 8 processor server.

    By 2001, my PIII/500+Voodoo 4+RH 7.3 was smoking the O2's. People with new Athlon+(GeForce||Radeon) systems were putting mine to shame. The new cheap-ass Dell workstations in the computer labs would have been better than the O2's at that point.

    Spending that much money on hardware that is obsolete in less than 5 years is not a good investment.

    The next year they switched to a Linux/MacOS X setup.

  • by LinuxParanoid (64467) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:24AM (#11072394) Homepage Journal
    SGI faced the innovator's dilemma big-time; it was tricky to cannabalize their $2 billion workstation business for a $300 million graphics card market. And to move from being a full-system vendor to being a graphics card vendor. And even with all the management and business-issue problems, I noticed three problems their engineering effortsg never overcame:
    - trouble with quality and shipping on time (see IMPACT)
    - couldn't match/switch from 3-4-year development cycles of the workstation business to 6-month product cycles of the PC graphics card business
    - engineers were loath to give up control of the chipset/box/OS in order to settle for just controlling the graphics subsystem. They tried to be a full-system player in a PC world. Given that Compaq couldn't really do it (something that was at least semi-obvious at the time), its not a surprise they, coming from the workstation space, couldn't do it with their integrated NT workstations.
    - The engineers were delivering product that was differentiated but not in the areas that the biggest customers cared the most about. The benefits of UMA (unified memory architecture) graphics just weren't in sync with what the market most wanted: the fastest 3D at the cheapest price. And in the classic workstation space, polygon-pushing was what was most needed. Half their business was CAD workstations and in the end they lost that to Sun/HP/IBM who didn't have the sexy texture mapping stuff but could render polygons "good enough".

    SGI also benefitted from many years from the other workstation vendors under-investing in 3D graphics. When that era ended, even the workstation business they were in got a heck of a lot more competitive.

    Anyway, that's what comes to mind when I remember back to SGI in the mid-90s. In hindsight, I don't know of any silver bullets that would have gotten them out of the situation; it was death by a thousand cuts. At the time, I wondered if a merger with Apple would have made sense but it wasn't clear that the disfunctionality of the two organizations at the time would have melded into something better. Maybe a damn good CEO could have helped them carve out a more defensible role in the industry; that's the only thing that got Apple through as far as I'm concerned.

  • by superid (46543) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:29AM (#11072440) Homepage
    Every year our lab got a highly anticipated visit from the SGI road show team. A big black Kenworth 18 wheeler with an equally glossy black trailer.

    Inside was a collection of workstations all running very impressive (at the time) GL demos with realtime "twist this knob and rotate the champagne glass" kind of stuff.

    We have at least three Origin 2000 systems, one is 96 node...so you know the demos must have helped at least some :)

    If it wasn't for our Origins running Matlab I probably would not have tried linux until much later. The only reason I tried linux was to use X and run Matlab remotely.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday December 13, 2004 @11:34AM (#11072479) Homepage Journal
    An SGI workstation is about equal to the graphics power of a PS2. SGI learned the hard way that if you need to ride the crest of Moore's law then you need massively large capital investment to do it. Niche 'power' workstations is a dead business.
  • I remember seeing Titanic in Mountain View and afterwards driving around the neighborhood--past Sun, SGI, and everyone else who helped make it happen. I wanted to leave notes on the companies' front doors saying "Great job on Titanic!" but didn't. :-) Not quite the point of the article but it just came to mind. I do remember back when all us PC drones looked up at Sun and SGI gear in awe.
  • It sucked. But the SGI days were awesome. Still have a Challenge S and a gutted Crimson lying around. They had some great hardware and IndigoMagic was very cool too. But even then, they had lack of common apps. Ahh well, stuff comes and goes and now someone should start a museum.

    I had the fortune of visiting the SGI campus this year after LinuxWorld in SF. They have a statue of the pipe logo in the front of the building.... They're keepin' the faith!

    -m
  • by magefile (776388) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:09PM (#11072763)
    "Hey, I know this. It's UNIX!"
  • by swb (14022) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:14PM (#11072789)
    Apple's moving much more in a consumer electronics direction than in a computing direction, but I still think it would have been interesting if Apple had bought SGI while they were developing OS X.

    Both companies had a solid niche in computer graphics; SGI's in 3D visualization, and Apple's in 2D design. Apple was going to introduce a UNIX based operation system, IRIX is a UNIX based operating system. Both companies are involved in computing, but not so much in the transactional data processing side that HP/IBM/Sun are involved in, and neither one was ever in the position to make meaningful moves in that market. Both had clientelle willing to spend more on their products than the products of their more direct competitors to get either their specialized hardware or software.

    I think it would have benefitted Apple by giving their products more industrial/data center credibility, in addition to general upward mobility for hardware and software, especially in the 3D visualization realm. SGI on the other hand would have gotten access to more mainstream applications (in their late 90s heydey you COULD get stuff like Photoshop for the SGI) and easier integration with a desktop-priced computer.

    In the end if it was done right, I think you could have had a really cool computing environment based on a common operation system. Research departments or other entities with uniqure requirements could have been "all Apple" with desktop Macs and machine-room servers all sharing the same user interface and capable of running the same applications (think fat binaries with MIPS and PPC, instead of PPC and 68K).

    It might have led to some interesting clustering concepts integrating the desktops and the big boys for shared/distributed computing, NUMA, and other stuff.

    Anyway, I think there was an interesting business case for such a merger. Most Apple fans (often rudely) disgree, and think of Apple as perpetually a personal computer/consumer electroncis company when I thought they could have been and done more. Oh well, it's too late now.
  • by EXTomar (78739) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:20PM (#11072831)
    Back before they shrunk their name, Silicon Graphics Inc. had some fun stuff to play with but even in the glory days I wouldn't believe how overpriced it was.

    I've used the green boxed machines (their name escapes me), the Iris, the Indy, the O2, and a whole bunch of "oven" machines. All of them very nice to play with but all of which were very expensive. These where the guys who came up with IrisGL which was the forerunner to OpenGL. They went "64-bit" early too although they did it the wrong way (changing the OS moniker to "IRIX64" broke many Makefiles). All was right and good...as long as there was no one else in the same product space.

    It was around the mid 90s when several new things started to pop up. Sun and HP noticed how SGI was a "darling" and wanted in on the action and tried to create their own "graphics workstation" both of which weren't as nice and often times a lot cheaper. Around this time, as well know, a little OS known as Linux started to get some steam and a little project known as Mesa started to actually conform to OpenGL.

    So now they had pressure from the top and the bottom. I also viewed their buying Cray as a bad move because it didn't make their technology any cheaper to compete against Sun and HP let alone the cheap Windows or Linux workstation with a semi-decent AGP card.

    The last SGI machine I saw ran Windows 2K. Such a shame because it was still way overpriced from what you could buy "off the shelf". Maybe things would have been different if they embraced Open Source to cut down the overhead. I honestly don't know. Retreating into the supercomputer product space made me notice how much they were the Amiga/Commedore of the 90s. They were too pretty, too expensive, too early.
  • I was there (Score:4, Interesting)

    by couch_warrior (718752) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:38PM (#11072961)
    I was an SGI employee during the "glory days', and got to watch the company go downhill until I got laid off in the umpteenth wave of "rightsizing". But in spite of the layoff, I love SGI. The only problem with SGI was that they were just too d@mn good at everything. They treated their employees like kings. Their pay was 10-20% above their competitors. They had free sodas and gourmet coffee for employees *before* the dot.com boom. Their machines were always the best-of-the-best. Most powerful CPUs, best graphics, most user friendly OS. Their suppot staff were highly trained degreed EEs who actually knew how the comuters worked down to the circuit level, not fresh-out-of-highschool dweebs with a 3-month certificate in micros@ftology. What happended to SGI is an allegory for what has happened to America in general. Cheap mass-produced commodity junk has taken the profit out of the market, and forced everyone to lower their standards. Veyr much like the SouthPark episode "Something Wallmart this way comes." Ultimately we will all end up buying $100 dollar commodity computers, not because they are good or powerful, but because they will be all we can afford on our $10/hr jobs as janitors of the Microsoft plumbing.
    • Re:I was there (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bujoojoo (161227) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:07PM (#11073782)
      The parent brings up a great point about SGI:

      Their suppot staff were highly trained degreed EEs who actually knew how the comuters worked down to the circuit level

      I worked with SGIs from during the '88 - '92 timeframe. At that time, when you called with a problem, you didn't talk to the front-line page-turner monkey like you get now (you know, the guy looking in the same manual we have and saying 'Did you try x?' or 'Did you try y?'). We would actually talk to someone who could solve your problem. I can remember one time we had a problem with 'memmap' and actually talked to 3 people: the guy wrote the memmap function, the guy that wrote the memory device driver, and one other that, IIRC, wrote the semaphore functions.

      Talked to all three. At once. Together.

      We had a patch the next morning. Two or three weeks later, we got the official distribution.

      SGI. How I miss thee...
    • Re:I was there (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mihalis (28146)

      What happended to SGI is an allegory for what has happened to America in general. Cheap mass-produced commodity junk has taken the profit out of the market, and forced everyone to lower their standards. Veyr much like the SouthPark episode "Something Wallmart this way comes." Ultimately we will all end up buying $100 dollar commodity computers, not because they are good or powerful, but because they will be all we can afford on our $10/hr jobs as janitors of the Microsoft plumbing.

      I've thought about this

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday December 13, 2004 @01:41PM (#11073534) Homepage
    I was doing Falling Bodies [animats.com] right at the time Hollywood was beginning to switch from SGI to PCs. The high-end packages like Softimage ran on SGI only. The studios had wall to wall SGI workstations. PCs were considered toys. SGI had a Silicon Studios division, with an impressive building in Mountain View. (It's now the Computer Museum.)

    Then Microsoft bought Softimage, and made them come out with an NT version. The first serious OpenGL graphics cards (DirectX was stil in the future) came from vendors like Fujitsu and Dynamic Pictures. They didn't work very well. Installation required direct cooperation with the board developers. But they did have the 4x4 matrix multiplier for geometric transforms and a hardware Z buffer, just like an SGI machine.

    That's when the studios started gettting NT-based animation systems. They weren't standard desktop PCs at first, though. Intergraph sold "high end NT workstations", and it was worth it simply because they could make the graphics board play nice with the motherboard. Softimage on NT on the DEC Alpha had a following.

    One real issue for a few years was that it was seen as "unprofessional" to be using a PC for animation. At one point I had a Pentium Pro in a black rackmount case, and industry people asked me where they could get one like that, so their shop would look "professional".

    Then came mainstream motherboards with AGP slots, and finally, the graphics board had enough memory bandwidth to work right. Then serious graphics boards went mainstream, and it was all downhill for Silicon Graphics after that.

  • by Proc6 (518858) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:41PM (#11074153)
    11-12 years ago I started my own business as an independant 3D animator and multimedia content developer. I spent something like $15,000 on an SGI Indy with a 100Mhz MIPS R4000 CPU in it and Softimage|3D.

    A few years later, after the SGI had fallen apart and was long since replaced by a far cheaper NT Workstation running the newly ported-to-NT Softimage|3D, I went out and bought a PDA to assist me with my meeting and contact organization.

    I was flipping through the technical specs in the manual when I ran across:

    Casio Cassiopeia E-100/105 Info
    Processor: Mips R4000
    ROM CPU: 131 MHz

  • by WhiteDragon (4556) on Monday December 13, 2004 @03:14PM (#11074534) Homepage Journal
    The US Postal Service has thousands of SGI O200 and 1100 computers in use as backend processors for image recognition. Any time you send a letter, an image of the mail piece is sent to a system with racks of them, to be recognized on custom software from Lockheed-Martin. The O200s are actually not bad computers, they have a lot of ram and fast scsi drives, and quad Mips processors running between 200 and 400 Mhz, although parts for them are fantastically expensive. Of course they are running IRIX. The 1100s are just 1U rackmount dual proc Pentium IIIs running linux. One of the main reasons IRIX was used was the availability of an OSI networking stack, which is used to communicate to some of the ancient-but-still-working-well sorting machines. The strange thing about all this is that I am usually the first one to evangelize the networking abilities of Linux, but I've never seen an OSI stack for it.

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