Computer Business Review


As expected, Silicon Graphics Inc is replacing its Indy workstation and Challenge symmetric multiprocessing server lines with O2 and Origin products, upgrading Onyx graphics subsystems, while leaving the Indigo2 Impact workstation range intact (CI No 3,014). The new servers, Cray Origin 2000, Origin 2000 and Origin 200 employ different configurations of the company’s new S2MP Scalable Shared memory Multiprocessor technologies to scale from two to a possible 1,024 R10000 MIPS RISC processors, although anything over a 128-way will be a special order item. The servers use various combinations of Hub, Crossbow and CrayLink crossbar interconnect and routing technologies, including the fabled Spider ASIC, the basic premise of S2MP being that a vailable bandwidth increases as CPUs are added, while message latency stays the same. CrayLink includes a distributed directory system for maintaining memory coherence, which Silicon Graphics describes as a ccNUMA configuration. The Spider interconnect supposedly provides a bandwidth of 800Mbps per device and a processor-to-memory latency of 330nS, or 550ns across nodes. The Origin systems run a new modular implementation of the company’s Unix called Cellular Irix which distributes replicated operating system kernel functions in cells, each of which manage a subset of processes. It provides fault isolation and containment within individual cells and is based on Stanford University’s modular Hive implementation of Irix 5.2. The firm says symmetric multiprocessing applications created for Challenge servers will run unchanged; in addition, developers will be able to write new software that takes advantage of NUMA configurations.

Six PCI slots

The Origin 200 tower comes with up to four 180MHz R10000s, each with 1Mb cache, up to 4Gb memory, 109Gb disk, and can transfer data at 1.15G-bytes per second. There are six PCI slots and eight optional XIO slots – Silicon Graphics’s 2.6Gbytes per second, 400MHz input-output specification – though XIO-to-PCI bridge chips are being employed. Two Origin 200s can be joined with the CrayLink interconnect. Where Origin 200 has the interconnect, basic input-output and memory slots built on to the motherboard into which CPU boards plug, the Origin 2000 carries the intercon-nect ASICs, memory slots and processor on a node board. Desk-side cabinets support up to four dual-processor boards with 195MHz or 180MHz CPUs and 4Mb and 1Mb cache respectively. The system is said to deliver up to 3.1GFLOPS performance, 2.5Gbytes per second bandwidth and support up to 16Gb memory, 12 XIO slots and an optional PCI-64 bus with three internal slots. It supports up to 45Gb internal disk, up to 3.5Tb over S CSI and 18.5Tb over Fiber Channel links. Up to eight Origin 2000 ‘building blocks’ can be linked via CrayLink to create a 25GFLOPS system with up to 128Gb memory. While Origin 2000 nodes include routing and CPU processors on the same device, the Cray Origin 2000 uses a MetaRouter box, with no built-on CPUs, to configure additional building blocks which result in systems that can scale from 65 to 128 195MHz processors, doing 50GFLOPS and supporting up to 256Gb memory. Origin200 starts at $12,00 0, Origin2000 desk-side at $30,000 and Cray Origin2000 rack at $85,000. Silicon Graphics claims a 195MHz R10000-based Origin 2000 performs 8.57 to 9.43 SPECint95 from base to peak, and 17.5 to 19.1 SPECfp95. The uniprocessor O2 box line incorporates a unified memory architecture design where the R5000 or R10000 CPU is integrated on the same motherboard with three-dimensional graphics, image processing, video and compression. It runs a new 6.3 release of the Irix Unix and comes bundled with Navigator and Insignia SoftWindows in nine configurations starting as an 180MHz R5000 machine with 32Mb memory, 1Gb disk and 17 screen. R5000 and R10000 models start at $6,000 and $14,000 respectively. O2 Modelers include a full Web and graphics development environment. A new 24-way R10000 Onyx2 Reality Monster graphics engine is said to perform eight times faster than the existing high-end Onyx. Onyx2 comes with up to four R10000s in desksides, 24 in racks. All O2, Origin and Onyx2 systems are planned to ship this quarter – though some interconnect arrangements may fall over to 1997 – while Onyx2 RealityMonster will ship by mid-1997. Neither CrayLink nor Cray Origin contains any technology tapped from the Cray Research Inc unit, however t he Cray Origin 2000, CrayLink and Cray’s T3E supercomputer will be the leaping-off point for a single integrated line of future Silicon Graphics-Cray systems. Irix and Cray Unicos Unixes are already being merged.