Introduction and information request

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Devil Master
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Introduction and information request

Unread postby Devil Master » Mon Dec 28, 2015 6:39 pm

Hello there, I've been curious about retro SGI machine ever since I've seen an Indigo 2 at a retrocomputing event, so i thought I'd ask a few questions here.
I normally satisfy my retrocomputing interest with emulators, but no program has ever emulated any kind of SGI machine, so the only way for me to run any kind of SGI software is to have a physical machine. My other interest is virtual reality, and this interest was born in 1991, but I have only been able to practice it since 2004, first with a pair of shutterglasses, then with various HMDs, making 3D software with DarkBASIC and Irrlicht. One of the first VR simulations I remember reading about was "La Città Di Giotto", an Italian software running on an Onyx machine and using a pair of CrystalEyes shutterglasses for stereoscopic effect.
Of course, buying an Onyx just for curiosity is out of the question, but I would still like to have an affordable retro SGI machine capable to generate stereoscopic scenes in real time.

Okay, here are the questions I have:

1) Which SGI machines support stereoscopy? My budget roof is 1000 euros.

2) What stereoscopic software is available for SGI machines?

3) There is a page at http://www.roosmcd.dds.nl/oldsite/index.htm explaining how to connect Asus VR100 shutterglasses to an SGI machine. I don't have Asus VR100 shutterglasses, but I have a pair of wired eDimensional wired shutterglasses, which connect to a dongle with a jack that is indistinguishable from a stereo headphone jack. The dongle, in turn, connects to a VGA-out port at one end, and to a monitor VGA cable at the other. Do you know whether this kind of shutteglasses can be connected to an SGI machine, and how?

4) Windows PCs have several drivers for stereoscopy, which intercept Direct3D calls and generate image pairs in various formats (pageflipping, side-by-side, over/under, HDMI-compliant and so on). Is there anything comparable for SGI machines and their graphical libraries?

5) Is Ian's SGI Depot (http://sgidepot.co.uk/sgidepot/ ) a good place to buy an SGI machine?

robespierre
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Stereo graphics

Unread postby robespierre » Tue Dec 29, 2015 12:01 am

All of the Silicon Graphics MIPS cpu workstations support stereo graphics, except for a few of the least-capable like the Starter Indigo and the 4D/70G. API support is an integral part of GL and OpenGL, there are no "drivers". The application simply requests a stereo mode. As a consequence, the number of programs that support stereo is something like "all of them", including most of the screensavers.

They were intended to be used with CrystalEyes infrared shutter glasses, which were the industry standard during the '80s and '90s. Shutter glasses were made at various times by other companies, but the chance that any of them were actually tested by SGI approaches zero. CrystalEyes supplied connections for half a dozen workstation vendors, including Sun, IBM, DEC, HP, and Intergraph. From this you can infer that they all provided the stereo signal in the same format: only the connectors (and in one case, the Vcc) were different. These were professional products for professional users, which normally cost over $15k for hardware and something similar for whatever software was in use. It's possible that you could connect consumer-grade glasses like that web page describes, but in 18 years of using unix workstations I've never heard of anybody doing it or verifying that the schematic is correct.
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Devil Master
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Re: Stereo graphics

Unread postby Devil Master » Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:49 am

robespierre wrote:All of the Silicon Graphics MIPS cpu workstations support stereo graphics, except for a few of the least-capable like the Starter Indigo and the 4D/70G.

Is the O2 included among the "least capable" platforms? Because I searched for a picture of its rear, and there does not appear to be an obvious way to connect shutterglasses.
robespierre wrote:API support is an integral part of GL and OpenGL, there are no "drivers". The application simply requests a stereo mode. As a consequence, the number of programs that support stereo is something like "all of them", including most of the screensavers.

But if it's the application itself that requests a stereo mode, then it should be rewritten to request it in the first place, or it will never do it. So they are not compatible "out of the box" and this automatically excludes every closed source application.

robespierre wrote:It's possible that you could connect consumer-grade glasses like that web page describes, but in 18 years of using unix workstations I've never heard of anybody doing it or verifying that the schematic is correct.

At least one person has done it.

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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:36 am

Welcome.
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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby Trippynet » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:54 am

Devil Master wrote:5) Is Ian's SGI Depot (http://sgidepot.co.uk/sgidepot/ ) a good place to buy an SGI machine?


If you're happy with the price, then yes!

Ian is a great chap, sells very nice systems (with plenty of software on them), and the quality of his packaging is legendary. If you want a higher-end system though, be prepared to pay for it as he does charge commercial prices for higher-end bits of kit, however his low-mid range systems are priced more at enthusiast prices.

Of course, the likes of Fleabay or Craigslist are where you are most likely to pick up a super-cheap bargain (or here in fact if someone is selling), but then there's a lot of question as to how good the kit is, what condition it's in, what software is included etc. If you just want to spend money and know you'll get a solid system with no problems, Ian's site is a good bet.

Both the main systems in my signature came from him...

Devil Master wrote:Is the O2 included among the "least capable" platforms? Because I searched for a picture of its rear, and there does not appear to be an obvious way to connect shutterglasses.


This thread might be of use to you. In short, you need the Presenter card for the O2.
Systems in use:
:Indigo2IMP: - Nitrogen: R10000 195MHz CPU, 384MB RAM, SolidIMPACT Graphics, 36GB 15k HDD & 300GB 10k HDD, 100Mb/s NIC, New/quiet fans, IRIX 6.5.22
:Fuel: - Lithium: R14000 600MHz CPU, 4GB RAM, V10 Graphics, 72GB 15k HDD & 300GB 10k HDD, 1Gb/s NIC, New/quiet fans, IRIX 6.5.30
Other system in storage: :O2: R5000 200MHz, 224MB RAM, 72GB 15k HDD, PSU fan mod, IRIX 6.5.30

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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby Devil Master » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:42 am

Trippynet wrote:This thread might be of use to you. In short, you need the Presenter card for the O2.

Is this the Presenter card you're talking about?

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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby Trippynet » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:53 am

I *think* that's the one, although I'm not 100% certain as I haven't used one myself before. I believe the round connector is the one for the glasses. If you do go for that option, Ian sells the adapter for £20...
Systems in use:
:Indigo2IMP: - Nitrogen: R10000 195MHz CPU, 384MB RAM, SolidIMPACT Graphics, 36GB 15k HDD & 300GB 10k HDD, 100Mb/s NIC, New/quiet fans, IRIX 6.5.22
:Fuel: - Lithium: R14000 600MHz CPU, 4GB RAM, V10 Graphics, 72GB 15k HDD & 300GB 10k HDD, 1Gb/s NIC, New/quiet fans, IRIX 6.5.30
Other system in storage: :O2: R5000 200MHz, 224MB RAM, 72GB 15k HDD, PSU fan mod, IRIX 6.5.30

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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:26 am

Devil Master wrote:But if it's the application itself that requests a stereo mode, then it should be rewritten to request it in the first place, or it will never do it. So they are not compatible "out of the box" and this automatically excludes includes every closed source application.

There, FTFY. The stereo display is a built-in system feature and correctly-written software supports it. To get a depth effect, a scene must be rendered from two different camera positions, so an application must be written for stereo no matter what API is in use.

Devil Master wrote:
Trippynet wrote:This thread might be of use to you. In short, you need the Presenter card for the O2.

Is this the Presenter card you're talking about?


Yes, that card has the stereo glasses port. There were only three cards made for that special 'graphics expansion' slot in the O2: that one (for the Presenter 1280 OHP panel or stereo, not both at the same time), the 1600SW LDI adapter, and the VGA dual-head adapter.
The stereo port is a minidin-3, same pinout as VESA standard stereo, but with about +12V instead of +5V on the power pin.
You can use CrystalEyes Wired, the E1 or E2 emitter, or something called "NuVision 60GX":
Image
(The table gives the mistaken impression that other configurations are not supported as well: e.g. VGX and Onyx use the Powered Peripheral Port; Personal Iris Eclipse uses a pin on the Genlock Option DA15 port; and Octane V6/8/10/12 use the standard minidin-3 port. They misspelled Indigo2 XL and XZ.)
(Edit: I just noticed that it is also wrong on the "Octane/Onyx2" line: the port is DE9M, not female.)
I searched for other models of VESA-compliant glasses, but they seem thin on the ground compared to proprietary solutions. All VESA glasses and emitters should work with the SGI if they are tolerant of a range of supply voltage.
Last edited by robespierre on Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Devil Master
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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby Devil Master » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:31 pm

robespierre wrote:(Edit: I just noticed that it is also wrong on the "Octane/Onyx2" line: the port is DE9M, not female.)

Hmm? This photograph shows the rear of an Octane, with two female ports for stereoscopy. Can't find any picture of the rear of an Onyx2, though...
Image

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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby jan-jaap » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:31 pm

Devil Master wrote:Can't find any picture of the rear of an Onyx2, though...

http://www.sgistuff.net/hardware/system ... k-2200.jpg

look at the rightmost of the "big" cards, it is the DG-5/2 display generator. The DB9 in the bottom half between the BNC connectors is the stereo output connector.
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To accentuate the special identity of the IRIS 4D/70, Silicon Graphics' designers selected a new color palette. The machine's coating blends dark grey, raspberry and beige colors into a pleasing harmony. (IRIS 4D/70 Superworkstation Technical Report)

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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:40 pm

Looks like the Hardware Developer Handbook is wrong.
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Re: Introduction and information request

Unread postby Devil Master » Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:51 am

robespierre wrote:The stereo display is a built-in system feature and correctly-written software supports it.

Which programs do you know for sure to be "correctly written"? I know two of them: one is the VR simulation I mentioned in my first post, the other is OpenInventor. Any other?


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