SGI special ???

Discussion in 'Apple Collectors' started by Platform, Jul 8, 2005.

  1. Platform macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2004
    I have seen many SGI Workstations..but what is so special about them :confused:

    Loads of RAM and a nice case.......but?????
  2. geeman macrumors regular

    Nov 27, 2001
    At My Mac

    In the old days (i.e. about 5 years ago) SGI workstations were one of the fastest machines out there (and in many cases the ONLY ones out there) for doing things like 3D modelling with SoftImage and Alias WaveFront (the precursor to Maya and at that time only available for IRIX, SGI's OS); or DALiM LiTHO or Barco Creator (for prepress). Even PhotoShop used to ship on IRIX at one time, v3 I believe...

    While the MIPS chip, SGI's own CPU, didn't run especially fast (500Mhz in the days when Pentiums ran at something like 1.0Ghz), the SGI machines were doing much more per clock cycle (sound familiar? :D ). The machines used gargantuan graphics cards and ran OpenGL like stink - though since SGI invented OpenGL, that's not too surprising. There was also the UNIX stability, 64-bit OS for large RAM addressing, yadda-yadda....

    The SGI architecture is all about bandwidth. You can move **huge** amounts of data through an SGI workstation - or even **huger** (wait! That's not even a word!) amounts of data from an SGI server. As an example the theoretical maximum data transfer for PCI (in the days when PCI was all we had) is 144Mbps. The cheapest SGI workstation at the time (the SGI O2) had a bandwidth of 3.4Gbps!!!)

    However, over time 'everyone elses' boxes closed the gap on bandwidth. CPUs and bus speeds got faster and (crucially) Apple moved to a UNIX-like OS. Software vendors like Alias WaveFront and Dalim Software started adding new platform support on OS X and Linux - much easier ports from IRIX than going to WinBlows. Actually, SoftImage were bought by M$, but I've not heard of them for years - anyone out there know what happended to them??

    Today, SGI has still got a killer reputation for moving huge amounts of data around, as well as delivering ultra-high-performance systems to organisations who are after serious graphics firepower like Boeing (flight sims, designing aircraft,etc.) weather forecasting and scientific labs (rendering from calculations).

    However, SGI is losing money like its going out of fashion - their shares are penny stock now. Reason (IMO) is that you can buy a "fast enough" UNIX-like box running Linux or OS X for under $10K, so why spend $50K ( :eek: ) on an SGI workstation?

    ..even if it does look pretty :cool:
  3. Platform thread starter macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2004

    Thanks a lot for the info ;) :D
  4. blakespot Administrator


    Jun 4, 2000
    Alexandria, VA
  5. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    One of the things to keep in mind about SGIs is that they were amazing systems for their time. My Indy (from 1994) is able to capture video at full frame rate at full frame size thanks to the hardware.

    As for the poor state of affairs of SGI today, I can tell you exactly when they started their long march to the grave... when they started selling Windows workstations around 1998. They stopped innovating (with their own hardware and software) and tried to join the crowd. When the Windows/Pentium based systems failed, they tried making Linux/Itanium based systems... with the same results. And during that time their IRIX/MIPS based systems have been basically stagnant. Other than periodic patches (27 of them), IRIX hasn't changed since the release of 6.5 back in 1998 (about the same time Apple released Mac OS 8.5).

    No company, no matter how impressive their reputation and track record was, could last by standing still for 7 years.

    SGI is a cautionary tail... about what happens when you stop innovating (and aren't Microsoft) in this industry.
  6. milatchi macrumors regular


    Aug 11, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    Well spoken.

    My personal collection of IRISes:

  7. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Most likely the SGI I get to replace my Indy is going to be an O² with the Audio/Video option (a must considering how much I use that ability in my Indy). Those are great systems!

    But then again, they all are. It was never the quality of the products... it was the stagnation of the company that hurt SGI (and their general lack of support for the hobbiest community, which they currently tolerate but do not encourage).

Share This Page