Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 7th Feb 2009 10:20 UTC
SGI and IRIX If there is one company out there that embodies "former glory", it just has to be Silicon Graphics Incorporated. Once one of the most well-respected high-performance computer and software makers of the world, it is now a mere shadow of its former self. The most recent set of financial results from the company do not bode well for the already troubled company.
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XFS
by evert on Sat 7th Feb 2009 11:05 UTC
evert
Member since:
2005-07-06

They contributed XFS by open sourcing it.

http://oss.sgi.com/projects/xfs/http://oss.sgi.com/projects/xfs/

Indeed a sad development. I hope the best for SGI.

Reply Score: 5

OpenGL
by tyrione on Sat 7th Feb 2009 11:18 UTC
tyrione
Member since:
2005-11-21

There contribution of OpenGL definitely dwarfs that of XFS.

Reply Score: 8

Fledgling?
by deathshadow on Sat 7th Feb 2009 11:31 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

They are anything but fresh out of the nest - did you mean floundering?

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Fransexy
by Fransexy on Sat 7th Feb 2009 11:55 UTC
Fransexy
Member since:
2005-07-29

I think that droping IRIX and MIPS was the worst decisicion ever made.Without them, SGI is no more than another linux dealer

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Fransexy
by abraxas on Sat 7th Feb 2009 14:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by Fransexy"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

I think that droping IRIX and MIPS was the worst decisicion ever made.Without them, SGI is no more than another linux dealer


What exactly did they gain with IRIX and MIPS? Nothing really, except uneeded expenses. You should check out their business now it is a lot more than just a Linux dealer. They offer products that you can't get anywhere else.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: Comment by Fransexy
by fithisux on Sun 8th Feb 2009 10:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Fransexy"
fithisux Member since:
2006-01-22

What exactly did they gain with IRIX and MIPS? Nothing really, except uneeded expenses. You should check out their business now it is a lot more than just a Linux dealer. They offer products that you can't get anywhere else.


OK we should all use windows according to your line of thought. I believe they should have been commited on IRIX and on MIPS and push it to the desktop (ala microsoft). Instead they used the flawed economic model that consumers are idiots who pay whatever you sell them in the price you sell. This shows disrespect to customers. Now with Loongson, IRIX can have a chance on netbooks but they do not care which means no advertsing, do you see SUN's race to support AcerAspire One? This is a big company, bigger than Microsoft.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Fransexy
by javiercero1 on Sat 7th Feb 2009 17:56 UTC in reply to "Comment by Fransexy"
javiercero1 Member since:
2005-11-10

It doesn't take a marketing genius to figure out that (by the end of MIPS run) selling a processor that is one order of magnitude slower than your competitor and four times as expensive... is not a good business plan.

SGI always had an awful management, and their transition from MIPS to IA64 was an example of what not to do. As in, do not announce you are going to move to your competitors' processor (which is still vaporware) while you still depend on at least 3 more years of revenue on your current platform to survive.

The biggest blunder may have been the complete disregard (and sometimes it seemed downright hostility) that SGI had for the commodity desktop/consumer 3D market.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by Fransexy
by Dubhthach on Mon 9th Feb 2009 16:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Fransexy"
Dubhthach Member since:
2006-01-12

I recall when they brought out the 800mhz R16k that it's specint/specfp scores were about half of those for a P4 running at 3.2Ghz so basically getting twice the work done per clock. The problem of course in sense was that SGI were never gonna ramp clock speed right up.

Their high density Origin3900 put 16 chips in one 4u/5u "Brick" this was only viable cause the chips only used 25W a piece. When you recall how much the P4 basically used that some difference in power usage.

The other problem I think in some ways were the processors didn't include built in L2 cache. 16MB cache on Tezro was great but latency/performance would have been better if it was integrated in the chip.

Reply Score: 1

Not surprising
by mdoverkil on Sat 7th Feb 2009 12:28 UTC
mdoverkil
Member since:
2005-09-30

This shouldn't be surprising. The supercomputing market is heavily dependent on gov't spending. With gov't across the world trying to cut spending; the traditional supercomputing market is probably going to take a nasty hit. For a company like IBM that isn't a huge deal,they have their regular enterprise and consumer operations to absorb the hit. SGI has no such luxury

Reply Score: 2

RE: Not surprising
by evangs on Sun 8th Feb 2009 09:05 UTC in reply to "Not surprising"
evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

With gov't across the world trying to cut spending...


In an ideal world, yes that would happen. Out here in the real world, the UK (and from what I gather the US thanks to the "stimulus" bill) governments are doing anything but cutting spending.

Perhaps SGI should line up and ask for a slice of the stimulus pie? The US government seems to be bailing out everyone, might as well bail out SGI who has given us OpenGL, an early C++ STL implementation, XFS and various other nice stuff.

Edited 2009-02-08 09:07 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Windows NT
by TheBadger on Sat 7th Feb 2009 15:46 UTC
TheBadger
Member since:
2005-11-14

Ask people in the know (including customers) and they'll tell you that the thing which started the rot was SGI's strategic decision in the mid-1990s to adopt Windows NT as their primary future platform. Although they backed away from that decision later on, it supposedly provoked a bunch of departures and a loss of credibility.

Of course, SGI came back pretty strong with the Altix line, but in recent years the veiled threats about "intellectual property" (patents, in other words) haven't really inspired confidence in the strategic direction of the company.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Windows NT
by twm_bucket on Sat 7th Feb 2009 16:41 UTC in reply to "Windows NT"
twm_bucket Member since:
2008-10-09

Right about that time they were offered a chance by Nvidia to put their cutting edge graphics processing hardware in consumer video cards. SGI balked, I mean, sell to the muddled masses!

It's amazing that totally missed the boat on that.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Windows NT
by madgabz on Sat 7th Feb 2009 21:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Windows NT"
madgabz Member since:
2008-12-21

erm... AFAIK, it was the opposite - SGI gave up on their own graphics silicon (except their gfx-pipelining architecture) and asked nVidia to deliver, but they refused... after all, nVidia was founded by former SGI employees!

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Windows NT
by javiercero1 on Sun 8th Feb 2009 01:48 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Windows NT"
javiercero1 Member since:
2005-11-10

Actually NVIDIA was founded by ex-SUN employees.

A lot of people from SGI saw the writing in the wall and migrated over to NVIDIA though.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Windows NT
by milatchi on Sun 8th Feb 2009 17:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Windows NT"
milatchi Member since:
2005-08-29

Actually NVIDIA was founded by ex-SUN employees.

A lot of people from SGI saw the writing in the wall and migrated over to NVIDIA though.

The way I heard it was in the early 90s some engineers left SGI and formed a company -- the name escapes me at the moment; not 3dfx -- and in '93 or '94 some more engineers left SGI and joined NVIDIA. Then that first wave of engineers left or dissolved their company and joined NVIDIA too.

As for ArtX, I'm pretty sure it was founded by ex-SGI engineers and then bought by ATi in the late 90s.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Windows NT
by javiercero1 on Sun 8th Feb 2009 19:15 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Windows NT"
javiercero1 Member since:
2005-11-10

You heard wrong.

The founders came from LSI, and SUN. Most of the founders came from the team that developed the GX graphics adapter family at SUN.

In fact, I believe the nv in nvidia comes from some internal naming of the GX adapter at sun.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Windows NT
by milatchi on Sun 8th Feb 2009 19:45 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Windows NT"
milatchi Member since:
2005-08-29

You heard wrong.

Okay.

The founders came from LSI, and SUN. Most of the founders came from the team that developed the GX graphics adapter family at SUN.

In fact, I believe the nv in nvidia comes from some internal naming of the GX adapter at sun.

I may have failed to effectively communicate this but I'm not arguing that NVIDIA was founded by ex-SGI guys. I'm pointing out that a lot of NVIDIA's talent came from people who left SGI and joined NVIDIA.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Windows NT
by KugelKurt on Sun 8th Feb 2009 03:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Windows NT"
KugelKurt Member since:
2005-07-06

You are confusing NVidia with ArtX (later bought by ATI).

Reply Score: 4

A heartless comment
by Doc Pain on Sun 8th Feb 2009 05:08 UTC
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

When SGI's machines were the top line for video postprocessing and numbercrunching, along with the fact that they were one of the very few companies building machines that looked really great (Octane, Tezro), I always enjoyed using their IRIX OS.

Now that this company seems to progress in "negative growth" (NB: growth is good, no matter into which direction), and as they have given many benefits to the free software world by their contribution of OpenGL and XFS, couldn't they just opensource IRIX? Without wanting to sound impolite, isn't this OS considered "abandonware" already?

This applies to their hardware, too - sadly. It's considered to be "old fashioned", allthough their MIPS processors did perform better on iterations than the crappy x86 stuff sold at that time. Today, "beige boxes" are used in places where formerly SGI products have been present.

Don't get me wrong, I'm just a heartless and greedy guy. :-) I do wish SGI all the best in order to establish theirselves again as a "Wow-great-company". Maybe they can achieve this by supporting the free software movement...?

Reply Score: 3

RE: A heartless comment
by javiercero1 on Sun 8th Feb 2009 19:22 UTC in reply to "A heartless comment"
javiercero1 Member since:
2005-11-10

Irix will never be opensourced.

a) It would take a lot of money and effort which SGI does not have.

b) There are plenty of 3rd party licenses in the code, I assume, which limit SGI's ability to distribute the codebase.

Besides the OS seems to be fairly tied to MIPS, which makes it relatively non portable. Unless you are interested in running it on original SGI equipment.

In any case most of the interesting bits of Irix (NUMA and XFS) made their way into the Linux ecosystem a while back.

Reply Score: 3

No suprises
by deathshadow on Sun 8th Feb 2009 11:08 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

From the comments so far I think people are missing the point, and certainly don't understand making a business work. I see lots of discussions about technologies introduced - and the nonsensical notion that open sourcing and sharing their work is going to help the company... When really the technologies in question (like IRIX) are NOT what drove their revenue.

SGI had a target audience that was a very small niche in the computer industry for most of the 80's and 90's - the uber-high end graphics market. There was no real choice for computer animators or simulation experts to go to anyone else at the time as nobody else was providing those solutions. At a time when Steve-o over at Apple was convinced nobody ever needed a color display (one of the reasons he was asked to leave) and IBM was just introducing the VGA, SGI was shipping 1280x1024 truecolor Hitachi displays in the IRIS 2000 and 3000 series.

The problem with any high end niche is when what everyone else is using can suddenly do the same job, there's nobody left to market to. The entertainment industry has all but abandoned using SGI hardware... What made SGI unique was offering things nobody else at the time could - but as the capabilities of the PC market caught up there became the 'close enough' factor... which is why you see more and more movies being worked at with mac workstations connected to *nix render farms of relatively stock server level machines - There's a reason at the end of the first two spider man movies the A64 label is displayed... they weren't going to go out and drop $300K on a Origin 3900 when a farm of 20 or so dual opteron U1's can do the same job for a twentieth the price.

They just do not offer anything you cannot achieve by other means anymore in terms of actually getting a job done. In a way it reminds me of the demise of DEC and WANG. Both companies dismissed the business PC market as a fluke, and by the time they recognized the market trend and tried to come to the party they were just one face among many, with their legacy of charging tens of thousands for business machines making the suits running the companies unable to understand why they couldn't charge the 500% markup over manufacturing costs they were used to. Nobody was going to spend $9,000 on a DEC Rainbow when a comparably equipped IBM 5160 (aka PC/XT) cost a quarter that and had a broader software base. They missed the boat, and never really recovered trudging on for a decade creeping deeper into the red.

I see SGI going the same way. They are a company who's time has past, and the market they know not only lost confidence with the abortive NT attempts, it's no longer even really there as most anyone can part together a high end graphics workstation today by a simple visit to NewEgg.

Business-wise, I'd cut my losses and liquidate as unless they are willing to do a complete focus shift and find a new market in which they can provide something nobody else can provide, they're pretty much doomed to go the way of the mainframe makers before them.

They were delisted by NASDAQ, have been in the red for YEARS and in general have been just 'going through the motions' of being a business for about a decade. They either need to really shake things up, or just pack it in.

Edited 2009-02-08 11:25 UTC

Reply Score: 8

Not just SGI - offtopic ..
by bugjacobs on Mon 9th Feb 2009 04:40 UTC
bugjacobs
Member since:
2009-01-03

If there is one company out there that embodies "former glory"....


The name Amiga springs to mind .........

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not just SGI - offtopic ..
by deathshadow on Mon 9th Feb 2009 13:33 UTC in reply to "Not just SGI - offtopic .."
deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

Uhm, Amiga wasn't a company, it was a product... of Commodore Business Machines who went under in '94, saw some wierd half-assed attempts at resurrection... Mind you there is Amiga Inc, but that isn't so much former glory as it is an overglorified game of hot potato, the rights to the OS and hardware being shuffled around worse than SCO legal chicanery.

Reply Score: 2