Computer Business Review


Silicon Graphics Inc this week replaces its entire server and workstation lines and overhauls its Onyx graphics subsystems. The new server line – once code-named Lego, more lately SN0 – is dubbed Origin and comprises tower, deskside and rack-mount systems claimed to scale to 128 180MHz or 195MHz MIPS R10000 RISCs. The workstations are called O2. The Origin 200 tower and Origin 2000 desk-side and rack box use a modular architecture the firm has been calling SNx, in conjunction with its fabled Spider interconnect. Each SN module bears up to eight R10000s and up to 16Gb memory on four dual CPU boards. Each module is claimed to perform a sustained 4.8G-bytes per second via 12 Crosstalk slots. Six external CrayLink connections – it’s not the three-dimensional Torus interconnect from Cray; Silicon Graphics is just trading on the name – join multiple modules into large cache-coherent shared memory systems. Additional boards have two R10000s, 1.2G-bytes per second input-output connections, 64Mb to 4Gb memory, and the hub chip which serves as a processor interface, memory controller and input-output controller. It routes global memory requests to physical memory and transfers data to and from the processor, memory and input-output. SN0Net will appear as a collection of high speed links and routers tying together sets of hubs that make up the system. Crosstalk and Crossbow ASICs handle input-output and crossbar routing. The Origin 2000 uses two to 128 195MHz R10000s, and comes with up to 256Gb memory, 74Tbps Fiber Channel or 14Tbps Ultra SCSI connections, and delivers up to 51.2 GFLOPS. The numbers we’ve seen claim 102.4Gb per second input-output with the express link and 81.9Gbps without. Prices go from $85,000 to $2.1m. Silicon Graphics will claim Origin can scale to 128-way, though sources we spoke to aren’t sure Irix can support that number of CPUs. Silicon Graphics will say it’s the applications that can’t cut it. The Origin2000 deskside is a one-to-eight-way 195 MHz machine with up to 16Gb memory doing 3.2 GFLOPS with either 18.5Tb Fiber Channel or 3.5Tb Ultra SCSI. It will cost between $30,000 and $220,000. The Origin 200 tower is a 180MHz quad going to 1.6GFLOPS and costing $12,000 through $41,500. The O2 deskside workstation family comprises R5000 and R10000 MIPS machines clocked at 150MHz, 175MHz and 180MHz. The base model is the R5000 180MHz machine with 1Gb storage, 32Mb memory and a 17 monitor, costing $6,000. These go to a $9,000 box with enhanced O2 graphics, up to 4Gb disk and 64Mb memory. R5000SC variants running at 180MHz come with more storage and cost $8,500 and $10,000. At the top end are the R10000 machines, going from the 150MHz model at $13,500 through to the 175MHz version with O2 video enhancements, 4Gb disk and 64Mb memory at $19,000.