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SGI, Introduces Powerful High End Visualization Tools

CHIPPEWA, WI - Despite its industry accolades, don’t think for a moment that Silicon Graphics Inc. (better known as SGI) is sitting on its laurels.

Three days before its Altix 3000 family of servers and superclusters were named Product of the Year by Linux Journal Magazine, SGI rolled out the latest version of its popular visual computing products, the Onyx4 UltimateVision system. The same day, the Mountain View-based company, whose only manufacturing facility is in Chippewa Falls, also introduced its Tezro visual workstation, which at a 20 percent price savings offers a price/performance ratio three times better than its sister system, the Octane2


The Tezro will put you back about $20,000, a price the company is hoping brings in a new wave of customers for whom high-end visualization technology was little more than a bullet point on a “yeah, right” wish list.

In the Tezro, SGI says, it offers a workstation “designed for creative and technical users [read, “technophile graphics geeks”] who continually seek higher performance and more advanced levels of capability on the desktop.” In other words, just the kind of people SGI wants poring over its product specs to purchase a high-end workstation to be used for digital media, visualization and other CPU intensive multiprocessing applications.
To court them, SGI built a Tezro solution that can scale up to four of the latest MIPS processors, a big statement in the workstation industry. In addition, the Tezro’s desktop architecture is based on the company’s supercomputers, with high memory bandwidth and big-time I/O connectivity.
In addition, the Tezro boasts SGI’s Vpro graphics, which features a 12-bit per color component path (48-bit RGBA) for all operations throughout the pixel pipeline, the company says. The upshot is more accurate color, more realistic blending of colors for transparent objects, and expanded image processing capabilities.
Onyx4 UltimateVision

The Onyx4 UltimateVision system offers an even better price/performance improvement over the Onyx InfiniteReality model, offering eight times the performance of its predecessor at an entry price of $45,000— – a measly one-fifth of the InfiniteReality’s price tag.

“What is truly remarkable is that SGI managed to achieve this incredible level of price [and] performance by integrating standards-based, off-the-shelf graphics processors into its advanced architecture,” said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research, “I expect, in keeping with the industry's response to over 20 years of SGI introductions, we will soon see new markets as users get access to these new systems."

Several industries already are taking great advantage of the capabilities of SGI’s visualization technology, among them the U.S. military. U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-7th District) recently earmarked $11 million for SGI to build a prototype high-performance computer for the Naval Research Lab and to improve the Air Force’s F-16 flight simulators that use the company’s computers.

The visual area networking (VAN) capability of SGI’s systems allow end users in a plethora of industries— – including manufacturing, medical, and entertainment— – to study everything from roller coasters to human hearts in a virtual setting with unprecedented resolution and real-life quality. With the new prices, the company is hoping to attract more customers than just the deep-pocketed government agency or major automotive company.

"We believe we'll be very competitive with the new systems; and with the economy beginning to turn around, SGI is poised to be successful in marketing and selling these powerful new systems," said Gary Geissler, vice president of engineering for SGI. “The new Silicon Graphics Tezro visual workstation and SGI Onyx4 UltimateVision systems deliver outstanding system and graphics performance for tackling large complex problems within government and defense, manufacturing, the sciences, energy exploration, and media markets. And with more affordable price points, these systems will help bring advanced graphics capabilities to more people who will find even more new productive ways to use graphics."

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