By William Fellows Silicon Graphics Inc is no longer planning to port its Irix Unix to Intel Corp’s IA-64; instead Linux will be its Unix for Intel, at least in all but name, explains senior VP of computer systems Beau Vrolyk. It is betting the business on Windows NT and Linux going forwards, with some […]
By William Fellows
Silicon Graphics Inc is no longer planning to port its Irix Unix to Intel Corp’s IA-64; instead Linux will be its Unix for Intel, at least in all but name, explains senior VP of computer systems Beau Vrolyk. It is betting the business on Windows NT and Linux going forwards, with some contribution form Irix and the supercomputer system software.
Part of the reason is because the family of MIPS RISC chips which power Irix-based systems has been extended by at least two or more generations. The last MIPS R18000 part is now scheduled for introduction in 2005, although others may follow that too, the company says. The means Irix will continue to be developed until at least 2007, Vrolyk says, and that users don’t have to look for alternative platforms anytime soon.
Indeed, SGI will build new generations of Origin servers complete with the advanced ccNUMA and interconnect technologies that will support both MIPS and IA-64 processors. As MIPS machines they’ll run Irix, as Intel boxes they’ll run Linux. They’ll be the biggest IA-64 servers on the planet when they arrive according to Vrolyk, even if they’ll be mid-sized systems by SGI’s standards.
The company is currently working to help Linux achieve Posix validation, which will give it what amounts to Unix credentials, at least in the eyes of the US government and its procurement agencies. SGI and the open source community are working to build out Linux with the kind of high-end functions enjoyed by Unix. It expects additions for commercial processing will be added by other third parties.
SGI will have Intel servers out this summer running Linux. It explains that Linux workstations won’t be available until later in the year, when the operating system is able support workstation graphics functions and can run the usual catalog of workstation applications. There’s much more server-side software available for Linux than there is client software.
Although SGI has taken a stake in Linux company VA Research, it has previously described its Linux work as an in-house project. Vrolyk went to some length to explain that there is only one version of Linux – the one that Linus Torvalds releases – and that everything else is a modification. We will not become incompatible, he says. We are religious about that. That’s why he’s been encouraging the Linux houses to communicate a similar vision. That’s also why he cut a deal with Veritas Software CEO Mark Leslie such that the XFS file system SGI has taken open source will be compatible with Veritas’ file system when running on Linux. Vrolyk says Linux affords the industry the chance to put the missteps of Unix right. Unix didn’t build enough critical mass around a single code base. That’s why there are so many incompatible versions, he observes.
Vrolyk points to the one-million-a-month Linux installation rate and believes the industry is growing at more than 400% a year. He expects Linux, NT and the IBM/SCO AIX-based Monterey to be the main operating systems in use ten years from now. He says there are plans to use Monterey at SGI.