Best workstation to start with?

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Str1kernaut
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Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Str1kernaut » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:46 am

Hi, i have a question: is true the SGI Indy is the most common, easy to find and less expensive SGI workstation? What is the best SGI machine to start with in general? What is the minimum to spend to have one (any model)? Thanks
Last edited by Str1kernaut on Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
(Now the nickname it's correct)
I'm an ICT student (2° year at ITIS Scano). Since i was 8 years old i've got an interest for ICT, and since i was 2 years old i've got an interest for technology (I've got a photo when i was 2 years old with a pair of headphones).
I built my first gaming pc with new parts at July 2017: Ryzen 5 1400, 2x4GB Corsair 3000mhz, R7 360 2GB (bought from a friend), Corsair CX 450M, AsRock AB350M Pro4.
In these months i developed an interest for workstations, in particular SGI (thanks Dodoid, you channel is awesome :D)

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Irinikus
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Re: Best workstation to start?

Unread postby Irinikus » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:53 am

The O2 is a very cool little box, it's powerful enough to give you a really good IRIX experience. As far as cost is concerned, this can vary rather drastically for all SGI models and this depends on spec as well as the cosmetic condition of the machine.

The Indy, for example is usually a rather cheap machine, but a highly specced one which is in good cosmetic condition can cost quite a bit.

The O2 was where I started and I would seriously recommend it.

Here's an example of a neat little O2 box:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Silicon-Graphics-SGI-O2-CMN-B014ANT180-180-Mhz-R5000-with-FPU-256-Mbytes-/292266177330?hash=item440c6bf332:g:Xb0AAOSwScdZxVu3

If you had to buy a box like this, it would be imperative to ensure that the seller knows exactly how to package it, as the plastics on these machines are particularly brittle!

A good starting point.
Last edited by Irinikus on Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:04 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Str1kernaut
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Str1kernaut » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:55 am

But the main question: what is the minimum to spend? I can't go further 100-125€
(Now the nickname it's correct)
I'm an ICT student (2° year at ITIS Scano). Since i was 8 years old i've got an interest for ICT, and since i was 2 years old i've got an interest for technology (I've got a photo when i was 2 years old with a pair of headphones).
I built my first gaming pc with new parts at July 2017: Ryzen 5 1400, 2x4GB Corsair 3000mhz, R7 360 2GB (bought from a friend), Corsair CX 450M, AsRock AB350M Pro4.
In these months i developed an interest for workstations, in particular SGI (thanks Dodoid, you channel is awesome :D)

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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Irinikus » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:07 am

I would say: Don't rush it, save for it if you need to, but in the mean time watch the bazaar on this forum as well as eBay to get a feel for what these systems go for.
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Str1kernaut
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Str1kernaut » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:00 am

I know, even an Octane from Berlin (180 + 50€ of delivery) exceeds my budget (120 delivered).
(Now the nickname it's correct)
I'm an ICT student (2° year at ITIS Scano). Since i was 8 years old i've got an interest for ICT, and since i was 2 years old i've got an interest for technology (I've got a photo when i was 2 years old with a pair of headphones).
I built my first gaming pc with new parts at July 2017: Ryzen 5 1400, 2x4GB Corsair 3000mhz, R7 360 2GB (bought from a friend), Corsair CX 450M, AsRock AB350M Pro4.
In these months i developed an interest for workstations, in particular SGI (thanks Dodoid, you channel is awesome :D)

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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Dodoid » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:53 am

The only SGIs I've ever gotten in that price range were my non-working Fuel (which was really incomplete and still doesn't even boot to PROM because SN1 is SN1) and an Indigo2. With the Fuel, I've had to spend well over the price of the original machine on parts and it still doesn't work, and I got the Indigo2 because a viewer of my channel (who I'm reasonably convinced is past Nekochanner Dr. Dave) was getting rid of it. If you count my original seven SGIs as individual purchases, then each of them were well under that price, but I paid (traded in laptops, actually) a good bit more than that for the whole lot, which had to be bought together.

I would maybe wait for a scenario like my Indigo2. Of course, you're not going to get something from a viewer, but something like a business getting rid of their old machines or someone in your area selling off their collection on short notice often lead to cheap or even free SGIs, sometimes even multiple, entering the used market.

Alternatively, you could wait (a potentially even longer time) for someone to sell a lot of SGI machines together for a "not too bad" total price. This will, if they know what they're selling, cost significantly more than your budget, but you could then sell some machines for higher prices than their portion of what you paid for the lot, and this should bring the overall cost down to your price range while also potentially leaving you with more than one machine.

As Irinikus above says, both of these will take some patience. The only way to get an SGI fast nowadays, and a route that I have personally never taken (though I have nothing at all against people who sell SGIs on short notice for "fair market" values), is to get out your wallet and be prepared to pay quite a lot.
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby tomvos » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:07 pm

Keep in mind that you need to connect the Indy to a proper monitor. Sync on Green (SoG) is a requirement as far as I know. The O2 on the other hand has a standard VGA out which makes connecting a monitor much easier.

Next question is how to install IRIX. If you don't have a working netboot system somewhere, installing from CD-ROM is the way to go. For an Indy you need an external SCSI CD-ROM, while the O2 may still have a working internal CD-ROM (if you're lucky, better ask the seller about this).

I share Irinkus' advice: If you're planning on getting your first SGI, the O2 is a solid recommendation. Just show some patience, they'll pop up on ebay from time to time.
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Intuition » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:22 pm

Yeah an o2 with no reserve just sold on ebay last week. It was at like $15 last i checked but... it probably got up to at least $100.

Still it was one of the slowest configurations.

There are a few $150 ones on ebay but also the slower 180mhz r5k setups.

I'm partial to the r12k o2s because they still have enough oomph to do 3d work without waiting for the grass to grow.
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Str1kernaut
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Str1kernaut » Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:59 am

For that O2 at 15$ i proposed up to 25$ but another persone kept relaunch. Then i gave up
(Now the nickname it's correct)
I'm an ICT student (2° year at ITIS Scano). Since i was 8 years old i've got an interest for ICT, and since i was 2 years old i've got an interest for technology (I've got a photo when i was 2 years old with a pair of headphones).
I built my first gaming pc with new parts at July 2017: Ryzen 5 1400, 2x4GB Corsair 3000mhz, R7 360 2GB (bought from a friend), Corsair CX 450M, AsRock AB350M Pro4.
In these months i developed an interest for workstations, in particular SGI (thanks Dodoid, you channel is awesome :D)

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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Trippynet » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:24 am

It was easier ten or fifteen years ago. During that time, I acquired three Indys and two O2s (with keyboards, mice, cams etc) for free as a local University was clearing out their labs. Unfortunately, nowerdays you need to look at buying them.

The issue with all models is that the lower spec ones usually go for a lot less than higher specced ones, but lower specced models of later machines are of course a lot more powerful. Hence, a bottom-end Octane is likely to be close in performance to a high-end Indigo2, but will sell for less. Similarly, a bottom of the range O2 will give a maxed-out Indy a run for its money, but will be much cheaper.

Hence for a starter system, I'd avoid the Indys/Indigo2s personally and would look at an O2 or maybe an Octane (the O2 would be better as a starter system). Main reason I say this is that a cheap Indy or Indigo2 is likely to be quite low spec. Saying that, don't discount anything, and keep your eyes open. Bargains do pop up from time to time on eBay, but not as often as the used to a few years back. You'll also get better prices if you don't mind a system with some cosmetic damage incidentally. Good quality skins can always be bought later...
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: Best workstation to start?

Unread postby jan-jaap » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:32 am

First, I wouldn't get started with an O2. They are under powered and break easily. Except maybe for a strictly CPU-bound task and an (expensive!) 400MHz R12000 O2, the Indigo2 R10000 will beat the O2 at almost everything (and I have both). The O2 is sluggish to react to user input, almost any other SGI system will always be responsive even when under load. Must be related to that fancy UMA design.

They look pretty, though. People like the toaster shape that's why they're going for more money. Crimsons also demand a high price and are virtually useless for anything except admiring their pretty red skins and telling your friends it appeared in the Jurassic park movie. Not everything is rational when it comes to old SGIs.

I'd aim for an Impact Indigo2 R10000 or an entry level Octane.

That's the 'bang for your buck' part. But first of all you have to ask yourself what you really expect -- what you want to do with this system. If you want to code some OpenGL, tinker with demos etc, basically almost anything will do. But many things you take for granted in 2017 will be almost impossible even if you shell out 2 grand on a high end Tezro. Things like web browsing -- there's Firefox version really old (3) and even that runs really slow. Don't expect to do desktop productivity things (word processing etc) with it. An Indy is quiet and relatively cheap and doesn't eat a lot of electricity, but it will run apache if you want it too. But so will a Raspberry Pi. You can have those for 25 bucks and it's probably more relevant to your education.

$335.00 for an R5000 O2? Well, people can ask any amount I guess. Don't forget that international shipping is expensive, and that the tax office will hit you with import tax on the total cost (including shipping). A better indication for what a system is worth (what people are willing to pay) is to look at auctions which actually sold. And a bit closer to home. Such as:


That Indigo2 R10K will beat all of those O2s on anything except handling large textures. And that Octane would positively crush all of them.

I'm not going to touch the subject of what eBay prices actually mean and for what (often lower) amount you can find something outside eBay. Or whether you'd rather pay a little more and buy from someone who will answer your mail if it shows up DOA.

tomvos wrote:Keep in mind that you need to connect the Indy to a proper monitor. Sync on Green (SoG) is a requirement as far as I know. The O2 on the other hand has a standard VGA out which makes connecting a monitor much easier.

The O2 puts out SOG as well. Both Indy, Indigo2, O2 and Octane also put out the usual separate sync signals. A monitor can use either of them to put a picture on the screen. The only difference is the connector on the back of the machine which is HD15 ("VGA") for the O2 and 13W3 for most other systems.

For a VGA cable you can be sure that the sync lines are connected the way you'd expect, and the monitor merely has to tolerate the presence of sync in the green component, because it can use the separate sync signals. For 13W3 to VGA adapters or cables that is not always the case. If the cable does not pass the separate sync signals, the monitor will have to not just tolerate, but actually use the sync in the green component.

Some monitors can use the sync on green. Some can't but at least tolerate it's presence. Some trip over it. Usually you can find this information in the monitor specs. There's a playstation FAQ out there too with a list of SOG capable monitors.

So: reflect on what you want and expect, be patient, and don't get caught in an eBay bidding frenzy. And good luck!

(edit: typo)
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby Trippynet » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:54 am

Heh, maybe I have a better experience of O2s as my 200MHz R5000 system was significantly quicker than my earlier 133MHz R4600 Indy that I had before :)
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: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby miod » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:12 am

Trippynet wrote:Heh, maybe I have a better experience of O2s as my 200MHz R5000 system was significantly quicker than my earlier 133MHz R4600 Indy that I had before :)

The R4600 Indy module comes with either no L2 cache or 512KB write-through cache.
The 200MHz R5000 O2 module comes with 1MB write-back L2 cache.
This makes a HUGE difference.
:Indigo:R3000 (alas, dead) :Indigo:R4000 x4 :Indigo2:R4400 :Indigo2IMP:R4400 x2 :Indigo2:R8000 :Indigo2IMP:R10000 :Indy:R4000PC :Indy:R4000SC :Indy:R4400SC :Indy:R4600 :Indy:R5000SC :O2:R5000 x3 :O2:RM7000 :Octane:2xR10000 :Octane:R12000 :O200:2xR12000 :O200: - :O200:2x2xR10000 :Fuel:R16000 :O3x0:4xR16000 :A350:
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Re: Best workstation to start?

Unread postby SPSDOD » Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:05 pm

jan-jaap wrote:First, I wouldn't get started with an O2. They are under powered and break easily... the Indigo2 R10000 will beat the O2 at almost everything (and I have both). The O2 is sluggish to react to user input, almost any other SGI system will always be responsive even when under load...
I absolutely agree with you 100%. If I had it to do over again my first Iris would have been an Octane instead of an O2. Even for basic tasks from the terminal and IRIX Interactive Desktop an Octane is far more nimble and responsive than any O2.

jan-jaap wrote:That Indigo2 R10K will beat all of those O2s on anything except handling large textures.
Also, the Indigo2 R10000 has a great aesthetic, almost a piece of art.

jan-jaap wrote:I'd aim for an Impact Indigo2 R10000 or an entry level Octane.
Seconded.

trippynet wrote:Heh, maybe I have a better experience of O2s as my 200MHz R5000
My O2 didn't feel functional, or useful until it had 768MB of RAM. :)
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Re: Best workstation to start with?

Unread postby uunix » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:26 pm

Here's the problem with owning any old hardware let alone SGI stuff.

So you get a machine, you are faced firstly with things not working or things required to use it and the over priced prices ebay sellers on a whole are asking, and secondly, the addiction of upgrading, and the over priced prices ebay sellers on a whole are asking....

So whatever machine you get, you will, at the end fork out a lot of money in the long run.

Now, that may put you off, sorry but it's the truth, therefore, with warranty and reputation as a start up, I would certainly approach Ian or Mopar, who have good packaging and probably good pricing on postage also you will get a good system will all the required goodies.

Or you take a gamble?

And think of it as an investment, it's doubtful prices will go down really.
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