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SGI Augments its Visualization Lineup

Silicon Graphics (SGI) Monday launched its latest series of workstation and visualization products designed to help the company grab a bigger piece of the IT spending pie.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm, known for its high-powered graphics computers took the wraps off of its Silicon Graphics Tezro visual workstation and Onyx4 UltimateVision. Both operate based on SGI's UNIX variant IRIX and use its Vpro graphics. The company plans on marketing the units to its bread and butter industries: media, bio-sciences, manufacturing and government.

The Tezro tower starts with one of the latest MIPS-designed processors and scale up to four CPUs with up to seven PCI-X slots. A rackmount version offers one to four processors in 2U and 4U configurations with up to 16GB of memory capacity and dual head graphics capability. The computers are equipped with SGI VPro V12 graphics and support for two streams of high-definition 10-bit 4:4:4:4 RGBA video.

Designed for the "power" user, the fourth generation Onyx4 UltimateVision, scales from two microprocessors and two pipelines, in a system that fits under a desk, to 64 microprocessors and 32 pipelines.

The company says the most pressing problem facing its users is managing and manipulating the terabytes of data required to transform datasets into visual representations. SGI says the workaround is the new Onyx4 system's architecture and large shared memory, which digest multiterabyte datasets while focusing dozens of microprocessors and graphics processors to tackle problems many times larger than previous configurations.

"We set out on an ambitious quest," said Paul McNamara, senior vice president and general manager, Visual Systems Group, SGI, "to build a system that delivered break-through performance and capability at dramatically lower entry price points, while, at the same time, protecting customer's investment in their existing applications.

In addition, the new system supports SGI Visual Area Network (VAN) technology, giving advanced visualization access to users throughout the organization regardless of location via thin-client access and standard networks.

SGI does not compete directly with other UNIX vendors, such as IBM , Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems for the so-called "enterprise" or corporate business market, but SGI is looking to gain marketshare with the expanded lineup at cheaper prices. The Tezro retails for USD $20,500, the UltimateVision starts at USD $45,000. Both are less expensive than their previous counterparts.

"I expect, in keeping with the industry's response to over 20 years of SGI introductions, we will soon see new markets as users get access to these new systems," said industry analyst Jon Peddie.