Feeds

SGI chief outlines roadmap out of mortuary

Yesterday's Google has plans for tomorrow

High performance access to file storage

McKenna said he was astonished that SGI had failed not just to capitalize on its rich IP portfolio, but had waved the white flag as soon as the shooting started.

"I am surprised by SGI's reluctance to defend its IP," he said.

This we interpreted as SGI's capitulation to NVidia, in 1999. NVidia and commodity Linux clusters became SGI's nemesis - and few staff at the time could understand the logic of Belluzo's decision to turn a surefire court win, and potential licensing bonanza, into a defeat. One can't imagine, say, a Qualcomm surrendering its CDMA assets for a flaky joint venture with a tiny upstart. This isn't how business is done.

McKenna added:

"SGI has a legacy of selling stuff for a small one-time fee. That's not going to happen again," he said.

And this we interpreted to be a reference to the day SGI met a giant, and agreed to give it many of its vital graphics patents. The deal, with Microsoft, was first brought to light here in early 2002, and the net value to SGI was just a handful of beans. Or $62.5m, to be precise.

"We have a hell of a lot of IP left," McKenna insisted. To stop the rot, he said he had lawyers writing letters in his second week.

He confirmed, however, that the OpenGL trademark was up for sale, along with other "non core" copyrights.

When we checked back to the 2001 10Q in which SGI disclosed the Microsoft deal, it also described the IP assets as "non core".

We wish Dennis and his 1,800 staff all the best. But recommend he has a "core inspector" on hand, to be safe.

SGI's history is full of strange echoes like this. Remember that the hasty Microsoft deal was arranged because of a dispute between Nvidia and Redmond over the first generation Xbox that threatened to delays its launch. But wasn't SGI at one time in the business of designing games consoles? Indeed it was.

And why is SGI now excited by a processor based on an Intel core that's twelve years old? The Woodshed is based on the P3 core, which is little more than the Pentium Pro with added marketing instructions. It's undergone a brief, two year emergency surgery to bring it up to date. Yet twelve years ago SGI owned an industry leading RISC chip that was both widely OEM'd and future proof. This was MIPS, which was spun out, and with Itanium on the road map, mothballed. You can speculate on how much advantage SGI might have gained from just two years' worth of similar focus on MIPS.

But back to now, and McKenna said SGI saw the opportunity to spin out of some of its software products and letting them benefit from a smaller organization. McKenna didn't say which, but he said SGI would retain a minority stake.

As for SGI's outlook, McKenna acknowledges the grim reality for the company's shareholders, but sees if not a sunny day, then at least some light.

"When I saw The Register's headline about our Chapter 11 filing, I thought, 'It's better to be titsup than titsdown'," he said.

"They'll use that," a PR minder warned the CEO.

We have no idea what he meant. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.