SGI offers updated products

Silicon Graphics Inc. this week will introduce new technologies to improve performance and scalability across its product line ranging from new entry-level workstation products for graphics-intensive computing to a new generation of supercomputers.

The announcements include the new entry-level O2 workstation which uses Unified Memory Architecture to improve 3-D graphics image and video performance but with pricing that begins at less than $6 000. The O2 replaces the Indy as SGI's entry-level workstation.

Meanwhile the Origin family of high-performance servers scales from one to 128 processors using a new modular system architecture. The new technology - called Scalable SMP (S2MP) - paves the way for SGI to develop new systems with more than a thousand processors.

Products from both families will be showing up in a number of agencies said Lynne Corddry manager of federal business development at SGI. The new products strengthen the company's offerings in areas such as Internet servers command and control and high-performance computing Corddry said.

The O2's memory subsystem - with sustained throughput of 2.1G per second according to SGI - integrates graphics video and imaging processing into one architecture rather than using separate boards. The unified approach is more efficient because all data sits in main memory and more flexible because memory can be allocated as needed SGI said.

Because of the Unified Memory Architecture SGI is able to provide texture mapping video and image processing and other advanced capabilities at a much lower price point than previously possible the company said.

In fact the workstation is likely to be added to the High-end 3-D Graphics contract SGI won last week under NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II. SGI won that contract by bidding its mid-range Onyx workstations. "Now our low-end can [meet] the performance requirements of SEWP II " Corddry said.

"It definitely revitalizes SGI's low-end offerings " said Keren Seymour an analyst with the workstation program at International Data Corp.

The product appears to be targeted in particular at the market where the Windows NT/Intel Pentium Pro combination "is running rampant " Seymour said. O2 does not make SGI the market leader in that space but "it's a very competitive product " she said.

The O2 product family ranges in price from $5 995 for an R5000-based uniprocessor to $18 995 for the R10000-based four-way system with a video option. The new systems are available now.

The Origin server family in contrast ranges in price from less than $12 000 to more than $2 million. The scalability comes from S2MP which allows users to build systems in modules each of which contain two R10000 processors with between 64 megabytes and 4G of memory.

SGI uses a switching technology called CrayLink Interconnect to hook up those modules into one system. According to SGI S2MP takes advantage of the processing power memory and bandwidth of each new module so performance increases almost linearly as the number of processors grows - much as it happens with massively parallel processing systems.

The Origin 2000 is likely to go into the Defense Department's High Performance Computing Modernization program in which SGI is a supplier Corddry said.

The Origin server comes in three families: the Origin 200 workgroup server a tower configuration with one to four processors the deskside Origin 2000 high-performance server with one to 8 processors in a deskside version or up to 64 processors in a rack-mounted version and the Cray Origin 2000 supercomputing servers with 65-128 processors.


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