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dexter11

SGI suing ATI

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I'm a big SGI fan too, there's a couple of octanes and a origin 2000 hanging around the office. Whilst they're pretty much useless for research these days I can't bring myself to throw them away!

 

In my professional life I'm a computational chemist and there's a UK wide working party that have just bought a new computer as a central resource. It's an SGI altix with 224 Itanium 2 cores, 896 GB of RAM and some silly number of TB of storage. Perhaps that's what's helped bring SGI back to life ;)

 

I really hope they survive.

Perhaps it's part of it, but building super computers won't save them and they know it. That's why they got rid of IRIX and changed to Linux. I bet they will start to make cheap servers if they haven't started yet. That's what can save them.

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I'm a big SGI fan too, there's a couple of octanes and a origin 2000 hanging around the office. Whilst they're pretty much useless for research these days I can't bring myself to throw them away!

 

In my professional life I'm a computational chemist and there's a UK wide working party that have just bought a new computer as a central resource. It's an SGI altix with 224 Itanium 2 cores, 896 GB of RAM and some silly number of TB of storage. Perhaps that's what's helped bring SGI back to life ;)

 

I really hope they survive.

Perhaps it's part of it, but building super computers won't save them and they know it. That's why they got rid of IRIX and changed to Linux. I bet they will start to make cheap servers if they haven't started yet. That's what can save them.

The two are IMHO pretty seperate...and laergely missing out on the mentality of the engineers...

 

I don't think they bought Cray to save them.... I think they bought it because they thought it was cool.

 

So long as they have enough to eat most days most of the techies have no desire to sell cheap...

Thier lowest end server is still about $20k

2 x SGI Altix 330 1U Base System. Each contains 2 Drive Bays and 1 x 133MHz PCI-X Slot

4 x 1.5GHz/4MB L3 Cache Itanium2 Processor

2 x 2GB DIMM Set Memory (4x512MB), 166MHz

1 x 250GB 7200RPM SATA 2 HDD

330_web2.jpg

 

Its simply not in the mentaility of SGI engineers to cut corners/costs... and I can imagine most of the engineers find working with x86 derived motherboards extremely distateful... basically because the design is "the sum of everything cheap" ...

 

Now Im not saying everyone needs a backpane with bandwidths measured in hundreds of GB/sec... Im just saying that is what SGI do.... its not an efficient business model but I doubt they care...

 

Its largely like Ferarri or Lamboughini selling a $5000 runaround...its just not happening... Lambourghini make perfomance cars and performance farm machinary... they don't make consumer items.

This is largely what makes SGI what it is....

Some manufacturers try and play both ends... BMW sells cheap consumer models, as does Jaguar and now Mercedes ... even Porche sells the Boxter (nice) but Ferarri and Lambourghini are only interested in non-consumer items and if it doesn't include a waiting list to buy one they aren't going to make it.

 

The bottom line is a Jaguar X-Series is just a crappy Mondeo with a different body shell and trim... and in the same way an x86 motherboard is always a x86 motherboard ... you can add PCI-E all you like but the basic motherboard design is crap compared to a real backpane like you get in a SGI ...

 

Sun are more commercially minded... they make x86 based PC's like the U10 etc. and IBM so the same and have been doing for a while but sun can never really compete with Dell or whoever on price however many corners they cut.

 

But the bottom line is not the CPU, Im not saying x86 CPU's are crap, I'm saying the chassis is crap...

Its like the X-types ... whatever Jaguar do with tuning, suspension etc. its still a consumer chassis from a Mondeo. The same goes for x86 .. the actual motherboard design is just a cheap consumer solution ... totally unswitched and hence limited in throughput and compensated by clock cycles...

 

Its rather like my car .. a Peugeot 306... its got 170hp (unmodified from a 2l 4 stroke injection) and redlines somewhere about 7500 RPM... I have had it up to 240bhp and redlining at 8900 (but put it back for insurance reasons) ... and I have heard of people getting 300hp+ from a basic 2l 4cyl....

 

There isn't much commercially available under $100,000 I couldn't take on 0-60 or even just top speed ...and M5's were best viewed through the rear mirror (even though they come as standard with 540bhp) they are a lot heavier... and 0-60 I could easily drop a very cheap low end Ferarri like a Maranello....which is only $200,000 or so... because its 0-60 is pretty lousy (4.2 secs) indeed the 306 Maxi rolled of the production line (of 2000) with 280 at 8800 rpm... and 1104 kg ... and is easily capable of a 3 sec 0-60 ..

The difference though is the Maranello with its 6l V12 develops not only 515 hp@ 7,250 rpm but an enormous 434 ft·lbf of torque @ 5,250 rpm so you can start off in first, drop it into 6th at 15 mpg and still get a sub 5 secs 0-60.... which is completely smooth ...

 

So yep, Ive upped the revs so the 4cyl screams like a motorbike and replaced the injection system with a twin turbo and I got a really fun car to drive... being a passenger however is a different matter since the ride is quite the opposite of smooth.... the huge 6 pot brakes work great... just touch them and you can decellerate like you hit a brick wall (and god help a passenger not ready for it)

 

I haven't actually been in a Maranello but my brother has an AMG tuned Merc SLK... Its completely different to my little rally tuned 306... just driving the 306 in traffic is hard work... its extremely reactive and no room for mistakes... drop from 6th to 3rd by accident at 140mph while hitting the gas and your front wheels will leave the tarmac in a puff of smoke .... while the car slides all over the place. (not pleasant on a busy track)

 

The reason I say all this is it must be obvious I like my car :D but its not and never can be a SLK or Maranello ... I can get raw power but the emphasis is RAW... and I do this mainly by beefing up the engine in terms of CPU cycles ... and beefing up the components around it like the brakes ... but in the end its still a 306 chassis.... its still a 4cyl 2L engine... etc. and the torque is still lousy compared with the standard 1.9L turbo deisel Peugeot engine... (which will also probably run 10x longer)

 

This is very much what the x86 architecture does... it increases CPU cycles and by extension the bus speeds but it doesn't and never can have the throughput (read torque) that a proper switched backplane can have.

 

So its not a critique of x86.. Im saying its a different beast... perhaps I should have used a truck as a example...?? You can move 5000 motherboards from say Atlanta to NY far faster in a semi-artic than you can in a racing car taking one or two at once....

 

This is why switched backplanes excel in very huge mutliuser operations.... because they are designed to do that... not run CPU cycles... which is like horsepower but throughput which is like torque...

 

Intel has made a fortune selling CPU cycles....and that is what the average consumer wants but 3D modelling demands throughput...

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