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SGI: new Onyx visualization server may open new markets

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SGI has launched a new visualization server, the Onyx4.

SGI claims its new high-end visualization server has a price/performance ratio 40 times better than the next best technology. This may open up new markets for visualization systems where, previously, all but the largest organizations have found the price prohibitive.

SGI has rolled out a new high-end visualization server that it says will set the pace for price and performance in this burgeoning market.

The Onyx4 UltimateVision system is an offshoot of the same NUMAflex shared memory clustering technology that is at the heart of the company's Origin 3000 MIPS-Irix HPC servers.

Rather than try to create specialized graphical engines for the visualization system, SGI designed the Onyx4 UltimateVision system can to use between two and 32 high-end graphics cards made by ATI Technologies in parallel to create what is in effect one giant and very powerful multi-pipelined graphics card.

Unlike the Origin 3000s and related Onyx InfiniteReality visualization systems, the Onyx4s have processing, as well as memory and I/O scalability, with up to 64 processors able to share the same memory space and I/O. The resulting system is one-fifth the price and five times as physically compact as the InfiniteReality visualization server, while having about eight times the visual processing power of an Origin 3000 system with the same MIPS processors.

According to Shawn Underwood, director of marketing at SGI, this kind of price/performance improvement - a factor of 40 - is exactly what spawns whole new markets, as has happened in areas from Unix workstations to Lintel clusters. The servers and visualization systems that are based on them are only part of the equation, but the idea of having an immersive virtual reality center would no longer be preposterous for many organizations.

SGI has taken some lumps in recent years, but any company that can sell 600,000 workstations and servers (mostly workstations by number) and generate $1.3 billion in sales a year in the cut-throat workstation and server markets has to be taken seriously.

Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor

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