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everyone accounts linux as revolutionizing the world of computing - wrong SGI did.
They not only are the primary superpower of graphics - they are pioneers of unix. Granted that IRIX should have been what OSX is today, they have inovated like no other.
Historically, IRIX was the first commercially available, mainstream UNIX operating system to support symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) capabilities. IRIX was also the first UNIX operating systems to support complete 64-bit and 32-bit environment, the first to support advanced ccNUMA scalable features and the first to support advanced realtime and graphics features.
Yes - their systems are (extremely) expense - but look what you get. The only comparison to SGI that I can draw is NeXT. NeXT provided a system years (nearly a decade) ahead of its time. SGI does the same. Now, if they can get there hardware cheaper, they'll do great. They, as Apple have to contend against the infamous beige box. It's difficult and they need to make it more reasonable for the average to even advanced user to purchase a system.
I think one of the challenges facing SGI and their plans is public and market awareness. I know a lot of geeks, but not a lot of them have ever used IRIX.
Few companies can have contributed as much to technology and manage to keep such a low profile. Think of the number of films that SGI machines have generated FX for and how few people could even tell you what SGI does. SGI like their customers to get the credit, but it seems that they could have come up with some sort of campaign to publicize themselves.
Made with IRIX?
Things go better with SGI?
Yes, they pioneered the graphics market, but recent developments in PC graphics cards have rendered SGI boxes overpriced, underpowered machines. The first and last shot was fired by some-guy-whose-name-I-can't-remember at SIGGRAPH a few years ago. He showed how to use a graphics card to do highly parallel multipass computation that once had to be done by specialized hardware (SGI). How can SGI sell machines when someone can go out and buy a Quadra and get nearly the same rendering power for a fraction of the price? Perhaps they'll be like Sun and rely on their support contracts.
5 years ago already, a former colleague of mine who did freelance Finite Elemente Modelling for gas turbine builder ABB, replaced his SGIs with NT boxes.
Obviously the software he used was available on both systems, and the professional graphics hardware that was provided for the NT systems was already good enough for him while being a lot cheaper.
I wonder if todays el cheapo cards would be sufficient
(at that time the commodity market offered nvidias RIVA 128 as top model) or if he would still need professional cards
And to the other poster - geeks know only boxes they have access to during their work or education.
SGI is something you found at engineering/chemistry/physics departments.
Similiar holds for IBM mainframes - what geek had a chance to work on those boxes only the older generation.
SGI has always been about computation that is far beyond PCs or other workstations. Choosing one cpu chip over another can no longer produce much of a margin given AMD/Intel x86 success. The only alternative to a faster cpu is to change the rules. Look at what the supercomputer users want & see if it can be done directly in HW by using FPGAs. They would have to make it seamlessly possible for developers to create HW versions of algorithms that run orders of magnitude faster than SW, such as protein modeling engines etc. The real irony is that all of this work is being done now on PCs but they are still quite rare beasties and very expensive. SGI could legitimize this technology like no one, then later on it would become available as a commodity on every PC & we will be discussing this all over again.
Comparing SGIs and Linux PC boxes are like comparing a car and a Liebherr T282.
The car may be faster but the Liebherr does the jobs that the car just cannot do.
SGI workstations are pretty much terminals, but the Origins and Onyx boxes are madhouse workhorses that handle data like mad and even large Sun machines cannot keep up.
They are also much more stable.
Problem, SGI management should be gutted since they are loosing their customers due to then just making stupid decisions.
Other than that the computers rock.