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 Post subject: Which SGI to max out?
Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 3:41 am 
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I've got a lot of SGI hardware; Indigo (R4K and R3K), Indy (including an R5K and a dual head system), Indigo2s (R8K, R4K and R10K), O2s (R5K and R10K), Octanes, Octane II (1x400Mhz 1GB V6) and Fuel (700Mhz 2GB V10).

I am looking to max out one of these to use as a desktop system with regular, everyday apps - most importantly, the most modern browser available - office, gimp, maybe an easy to use CAD app (which one would that be, btw?) and so on.

Of the systems listed above, which one would you recommend I max out? Perhaps the Octane and the Fuel are the obvious choices, but I am not sure if 8GB and dual procs in the Octane will be better for the kind of stuff I want to do, vs. the R16K in the fuel with more RAM maybe. My biggest issue w the Fuel right now is creating a custom resolution for my 1600x1050 Viewsonic, but that's a discussion for another thread. As a side note, having USB in the Fuel is nice for a desktop system...

So anyway, based on cost of upgrade/performance, what would your recommendation be?

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 4:09 am 
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sgifanatic wrote:
I've got a lot of SGI hardware; Indigo (R4K and R3K), Indy (including an R5K and a dual head system), Indigo2s (R8K, R4K and R10K), O2s (R5K and R10K), Octanes, Octane II (1x400Mhz 1GB V6) and Fuel (700Mhz 2GB V10).

I am looking to max out one of these to use as a desktop system with regular, everyday apps - most importantly, the most modern browser available - office, gimp, maybe an easy to use CAD app (which one would that be, btw?) and so on.

Of the systems listed above, which one would you recommend I max out? Perhaps the Octane and the Fuel are the obvious choices, but I am not sure if 8GB and dual procs in the Octane will be better for the kind of stuff I want to do, vs. the R16K in the fuel with more RAM maybe. My biggest issue w the Fuel right now is creating a custom resolution for my 1600x1050 Viewsonic, but that's a discussion for another thread. As a side note, having USB in the Fuel is nice for a desktop system...

So anyway, based on cost of upgrade/performance, what would your recommendation be?


I've never owned a Fuel but I'd probably go with the Octane2 to 8Gb.. Fuel Max is 4Gb ... USB support in IRIX is next to useless
A dual 600 MHz Octane2 would come close to giving a Fuel a run for its money..

R.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 4:18 am 
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The Octane2 upgrade would certainly be cooler... dual 600s, 8GB and dual displays... it'll also prob cost a pretty packet. I haven't been looking for these bits so not sure what the prices are. Should start looking just to get a sense for what it would cost.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 4:28 am 
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Hi sgifanatic,

I would say "go for the fuel" for the following reasons:
- faster CPU and higher system bandwith
- better SCSI possibilities (U160 at least)
- V10/12 are cheaper, as are all the other parts too
- no video clock issues
- much more silent
- DVD (and in some extend video playbak ability)
- USB support (Be careful, only specific parts. Definitely no mass media storage)

However, there are advantages for the Octane too:
- max 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB
- more sgi-touch look, not in a PC-like case
- integrated audio

Regarding the custom resolution you'd like to use, read this topic, and more precisely this reply by recondas, in which he particularly well describes the structure of the configuration files.
You can find more info here and there.

For having Octanes 2x300, 360, 400 and a fuel 800, I would definitely say "go for the fuel", but it's only my point of view.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 4:34 am 
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BetXen, that's very helpful. Thank you! One thing I neglected to point out is that I did buy an audio card for the Fuel, so it already has audio. And knowing you've compared both systems yourself is definitely a plus.

Yes, 8GB in Octane II is an advantage, but unless we ever get to a point where we have a current browser running on IRIX, I doubt I will be able to use it for desktop-app type things.

Thanks also for the link to recondas's post. I'll check it out and give it a shot later this week.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 5:09 am 
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You're welcome.

You know, it's only my personal experience. I'm not doing anything very exciting with my boxes (except using SGIs, of course). Many people here probably use theirs for more demanding applications and would maybe have another opinion. Maybe you will take benefit of a dual processor machine. I don't.

Anyway, have fun upgrading one of those !

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:A3504L: :A3504L: 16xItanium2 1.6, L2 9MB (neon)
:Fuel: R16k 800 V12, 2Gb, M-Audio, 36+147GB HD, 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Classic (nitrogen)
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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 5:33 am 
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sgifanatic wrote:
I am looking to max out one of these to use as a desktop system with regular, everyday apps - most importantly, the most modern browser available - office, gimp, maybe an easy to use CAD app (which one would that be, btw?) and so on.

For practicality, it's between the Fuel and the Octane. The Octane is nicer hardware amd dual cpu's is good. Otherwise, Fuel wins hands-down.

Most modern browser is deigel's current version of the 'flop. Works fine on fuel but crashes. Not all the time, just enough to piss you off. And responsiveness sucks but that is true for any Fireflop.

Gimp ... okay. I use the antique PhotoShop and Amazon Paint but gimp is probably fine also. Maybe even better, I shouold try it some day ...

CAD, I'd recommend Wildfire 2. unixmuseum and rothers would scream "I-DEAS !" I've never found a good clean 2D CAD app for Unix. Somewhere there must be an Irix copy of ME10. That would be the Holy Grail. If you find it, let us all know :D

noise : fuel is quieter

looks : Octane is better but fuel is red

reliability, octane wins but fuel is not as bad as an O2. Power supply and environment monitoring can be shaky tho

processor-wise, for general use with more than one thing going on at a time, Octane if you can go dual 600. Otherwise, Fuel.

disks, fuel is faster and can run SATA - that's a BIG plus. That might work in Octane also but haven't seen anyone say they did it.

external disks and card readers, fuel can run firewire. There are firewire card readers and external disks. That mostly solves the beef about poor usb support

memory, Octane can go to 8 gigs but for general use, I had 4 gigs and have never seen it all used

graphics, you could put two v12's in an octane and Octane v12's are cheaper but fuel is probably fine for normal use

add-ons : more toys for octane, especially video

In general, Fuel makes a fine desktop everyday computer. I used to run an Octane in general service. If I had to I could do it again, but would choose the fuel if there were two side-by-side


Quote:
My biggest issue w the Fuel right now is creating a custom resolution for my 1600x1050 Viewsonic

Should not be a problem, but even if it were, would be the same problem for any SGI hardware.

Quote:
So anyway, based on cost of upgrade/performance, what would your recommendation be?

Fuel. Then Octane OR if you have one, consider an O300 down the hall with an O2 as terminal. If you have access to one, they are pretty cheap and have good performance. They just don't make useful desktops but with an O2 to drive them they can be kind of a poor man's O350 ... 4p is neat :D


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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 6:32 am 
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sgifanatic wrote:
I've got a lot of SGI hardware; Indigo (R4K and R3K), Indy (including an R5K and a dual head system), Indigo2s (R8K, R4K and R10K), O2s (R5K and R10K), Octanes, Octane II (1x400Mhz 1GB V6) and Fuel (700Mhz 2GB V10).

I am looking to max out one of these to use as a desktop system with regular, everyday apps - most importantly, the most modern browser available - office, gimp, maybe an easy to use CAD app (which one would that be, btw?) and so on.

Of the systems listed above, which one would you recommend I max out? Perhaps the Octane and the Fuel are the obvious choices, but I am not sure if 8GB and dual procs in the Octane will be better for the kind of stuff I want to do, vs. the R16K in the fuel with more RAM maybe. My biggest issue w the Fuel right now is creating a custom resolution for my 1600x1050 Viewsonic, but that's a discussion for another thread. As a side note, having USB in the Fuel is nice for a desktop system...

So anyway, based on cost of upgrade/performance, what would your recommendation be?

I've had at least one of everything on your list. As a point of reference, I'll mention that I have no particular interest in retro-computing. Got exposed to IRIX a few years back and liked it. I still use it because I'm comfortable with IRIX. As long as IRIX (and the underlying hardware) will meet *my* fairly limited computing needs (and scratch my what-makes-it-tick itch) I'll continue to use it. When it no longer does I'll pack up and move on.

Ran you through all that to explain why I no longer own anything on your list except a couple of Octanes and a Fuel (I do have a couple of R10 O2s, but I haven't powered 'em up in several years - way too slow to meet my expectations as a daily driver). When running side-by-side, the 1x600 V10 Fuel provides an obviously more responsive general desktop then the 2x360 V12 Octane. To remove processor speed from the comparison, I also had a fairly well equipped a 1x600Mhz Octane2 in use next to a Fuel, and eventually sold the 600MHz Octane because it noticeably lagged behind the Fuel (and other IP35 systems) as a general desktop.

As long as your goal is the most responsive desktop (rather than the underlying gee-whiz hardware factor) I'd recommend the Fuel for all of the reasons mentioned by BetXen, and I'd add the Fuel's DVI graphics port and native PCI slots to BetXen's list. While you can add twice the RAM to an Octane2 (8GB vs 4GB), I can't recall the last time I came close to needing anywhere near that amount for general desktop use.

There are also a number of very useful Fuel-friendly PCI expansion boards that *aren't* supported in the Octane. As an example you could add one of the LSI SAS/SATA controllers and run a 1TB SATA HD in one of the the Fuel's internal drive bays. Adding equivalent directly-connected storage space to an Octane is going to involve an external array of some sort that will most likely be more expensive/noisy/power-hungry.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 6:45 am 
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Another simple reason for choosing Fuel - the ATX PSU trick makes it require one less SGI component should the original one give up and fail - live long and prosper, good luck matching *any* 3rd party PSU to Octane...

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 6:47 am 
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kubatyszko wrote:
Another simple reason for choosing Fuel - the ATX PSU trick makes it require one less SGI component should the original one give up and fail - live long and prosper, good luck matching *any* 3rd party PSU to Octane...

Which as with anything, it will only be a matter of time until finding replacement parts becomes the hardest part of owning a collection of older SGI machines (or any brand for that matter).

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 8:22 am 
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hamei wrote:
processor-wise, for general use with more than one thing going on at a time, Octane if you can go dual 600. Otherwise, Fuel.
Since multithreading has a major impact on browser performance (for example, with loading multiple images and other page elements at the same time), I am curious about how a 2x600 Octane would stack up against a 700 MHz or faster Fuel in browsing, though it's possible that the older browsers aren't optimized enough for multithreading to have a big impact. Likewise, for people who leave JavaScript turned on, the available JS interpreters are so un-optimized that the Fuel's faster cpu speed might be more important than having more than one processor. Anyone recall offhand if Ian or anyone else benchmarked that kind of scenario?


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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 9:25 am 
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josehill wrote:
hamei wrote:
processor-wise, for general use with more than one thing going on at a time, Octane if you can go dual 600. Otherwise, Fuel.
Since multithreading has a major impact on browser performance (for example, with loading multiple images and other page elements at the same time), I am curious about how a 2x600 Octane would stack up against a 700 MHz or faster Fuel in browsing, though it's possible that the older browsers aren't optimized enough for multithreading to have a big impact. Likewise, for people who leave JavaScript turned on, the available JS interpreters are so un-optimized that the Fuel's faster cpu speed might be more important than having more than one processor. Anyone recall offhand if Ian or anyone else benchmarked that kind of scenario?

In my little Integer/Floating Point app I wrote based on the results I got back between a 600mhz Fuel and a 900mhz Fuel were 22% in integer and 31% for Floating Point (4mb vs 8mb cache probably helped more so here). If someone with a 2x600 Octane wants to run it just PM me (it's not quite out of beta yet or I'd simply share a link).

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 10:47 am 
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I am still using SGI computers for my daily work. At work I use a dual 1 ghz Tezo and at home I use a 900 mhz Fuel. I never had any problems with memory. Normally I run Seamonkey, Firefox, Sunbird, Openoffice, Pidgin and a some more applications at the same time and 4GB RAM are more than enough for that, I am sure even 2GB will do. I have also a maxed out Octane2, but it's much louder and slower than my Fuel. 8GB of RAM don't help for your daily work.

@adrenaline: I will run your benchmark on my dual 600 mhz Octane.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 11:41 am 
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diegel wrote:
I am still using SGI computers for my daily work. At work I use a dual 1 ghz Tezo and at home I use a 900 mhz Fuel. I never had any problems with memory. Normally I run Seamonkey, Firefox, Sunbird, Openoffice, Pidgin and a some more applications at the same time and 4GB RAM are more than enough for that, I am sure even 2GB will do. I have also a maxed out Octane2, but it's much louder and slower than my Fuel. 8GB of RAM don't help for your daily work.

@adrenaline: I will run your benchmark on my dual 600 mhz Octane.

Sweet! I'm excited to see the results.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 2:37 pm 
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Thanks to diegel for getting back to me with some results:

Single Theaded 2x600mhz Octane 2 vs. 1x600mhz Fuel:
Integer - Fuel by 3%
Floating Point - Fuel by 1.2%

Multi-Threaded 2x600mhz Octane 2 vs. 1x600mhz Fuel:
Integer - Octane by 71%
Floating Point - Octane by 74%

And just for kicks:
Single Theaded 2x600mhz Octane 2 vs. 1x900mhz Fuel:
Integer - Fuel by 24%
Floating Point - Fuel by 32%

Multi-Threaded 2x600mhz Octane 2 vs. 1x900mhz Fuel:
Integer - Octane by 66%
Floating Point - Octane by 64%

By no means is this an end-all answer and in fact the multi-threaded test is a best case scenario. But it's pretty clear if you're running multi-threaded applications the Dual Octane would win out, but if you're running single-threaded tasks a higher end single CPU would be better.

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