Should I take the dive?

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IAMNOTDEFECTIVE
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Should I take the dive?

Unread postby IAMNOTDEFECTIVE » Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:46 pm

Hello everyone!
So I actually only found out about SGI last Saturday and I've been frantically getting all the info I need about SGI. Now before I go into the main reason of this post I want to say: Daaaamn! These machines are beautiful! 0_0

Now I'm a 3D Animator that only recently decided to move from SFM to Maya, I have been using Maya 2016 as I've been learning how to rig and how to do "pose-to-pose" animation. I want to use Renderman as the renderer and render at 5k resolutions... I know Maya 6.5 is the last version for IRIX but how different is that to 2016? Also I could not find a version of RM for IRIX! =P

I model in Blender, everything from set building to character modelling, it's all done inside this program for my workflow. I know that IRIX has a version of Blender available as well, but it's at 2.49 which I absolutely cannot grasp the interface like I've grasped the revamped version. It also does not feature the "Cycles Renderer" in this version, So even though I don't render through Blender usually, me setting up texture maps is a lot easier using the nodes in this renderer then Blender's default.

There's nothing wrong with my brand new Hackintosh, but I've read that SGI was known for their performance in 3D Applications. So hypothetically, if I had the money should I take the dive with a V12 :Octane2: or v12 :Fuel:? or is my workflow to incompatible to work in IRIX and I should stick with Mac OS X or Linux (With MaXX installed if I can ever get that working)

If it is the latter then I do have a cool build idea with the :Octane2: case I want to do at some point! ;)
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby robespierre » Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:02 pm

PRMan was available on Irix for a long time, but I'm not surprised that it's no longer sold. The interface and REYES rendering was cloned by several third-party tools so you could use pretty much any of them the same way.
The first was Blue Moon Render Tools (BMRT). Its author then formed a company to sell an improved version called Entropy. They both were served with lawsuits from Pixar and were discontinued, but the Internet is forever and source code is easily found.
The other clones were Render Dot C, which was a commercial product but can be found as source and Irix binary, and I think there were a few others.
The latest free-software REYES renderers are Pixie and Aqsis.

There are several Maya users on this forum who should be able to tell you what's missing in Maya 6.5, but remember that it is very old. But even by then the main platform for A|W was Windows, so performance on Irix is not that good. Same problem with Softimage XSI.

The 3d tools with the best performance in Irix are Lightwave 5.6, Softimage 3.9 or 4.0, Houdini 5 or 6, Alias Studio Tools 9, Mirai 1.2, and there are many others.
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby uunix » Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:34 pm

Welcome IMNOTDEFECTIVE, and I see you are UK based, outstanding.
Funny about the Maya interface, I'm not a massive Maya user but have used it for as many years as I have had SGI hardware and I tried the Maya 2015 last year and couldn't work out where the bloomin on off button was let alone where my Hypershade had gone. I am currently building a 5 second lighted scene just to start testing rendering times.

If you do want an SGI, you need the Inside, Outside, Noise, Heat and the software, not some bastardized mutation of one.. go for it.. if it's just modelling, I'd go for a FUEL (less environmental noise effects) and maybe render using some other hardware, but if you want to use video etc, Octane2, just my 2 shillings worth.. I have both and do both.
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby vishnu » Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:16 pm

The Maya coders take pride in the fact that they've never changed the user interface, if you know 2016 you'll instantly be able to be productive with 6.5. I have never used a version newer than 6.5, but members here who have have said the new features are "cruft." If you're happy with what Blender gives you you'll be fine with 6.5.

Maya 6.5 Unlimited also comes with Mental Ray which in my humble opinion is better than any other Irix renderer, but obviously you can export to any Mac - Linux - Windows renderer.

Now, for hardware I would say you'd want a V12 2-processor Octane (or a 4-processor Tezro) rather than a Fuel, the extra processors make a big difference if you want to run Mental Ray while you're modeling or in particular if you're playing back scenes.
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby IAMNOTDEFECTIVE » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:44 am

vishnu wrote:The Maya coders take pride in the fact that they've never changed the user interface, if you know 2016 you'll instantly be able to be productive with 6.5. I have never used a version newer than 6.5, but members here who have have said the new features are "cruft." If you're happy with what Blender gives you you'll be fine with 6.5.

Maya 6.5 Unlimited also comes with Mental Ray which in my humble opinion is better than any other Irix renderer, but obviously you can export to any Mac - Linux - Windows renderer.

Now, for hardware I would say you'd want a V12 2-processor Octane (or a 4-processor Tezro) rather than a Fuel, the extra processors make a big difference if you want to run Mental Ray while you're modeling or in particular if you're playing back scenes.


So if I do go with an IRIX workstation, I should consider more towards an Octane... interesting... =)

Also I noticed I derped in the original post, I forgot to mention my display is actually a Ultrawide Monitor... Whoops! XP
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby uunix » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:16 am

vishnu wrote:The Maya coders take pride in the fact that they've never changed the user interface, if you know 2016 you'll instantly be able to be productive with 6.5. I have never used a version newer than 6.5, but members here who have have said the new features are "cruft." If you're happy with what Blender gives you you'll be fine with 6.5.

Doh, I was thinking of Smoke...


vishnu wrote:Now, for hardware I would say you'd want a V12 2-processor Octane (or a 4-processor Tezro) rather than a Fuel, the extra processors make a big difference if you want to run Mental Ray while you're modeling or in particular if you're playing back scenes.

I'm to be convinced of your choice there Vishnu (Octane2 over Fuel), based not solely on the noise level of these machines compared to the fuel, but I respect the speed of a good fuel. But I will stand corrected after I have witnessed own testing.
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby Trippynet » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:34 am

IAMNOTDEFECTIVE wrote:Also I noticed I derped in the original post, I forgot to mention my display is actually a Ultrawide Monitor... Whoops! XP


Widescreen monitors are a bit more difficult under IRIX, but not impossible. What you may need to do is to look at compiling a custom VFO file for the monitor. Recondas and a few here can help with that. I had some success with widescreen VFOs for my O2, but not my Indigo2. However, in the end I found it easier to run my SGI machines through a conventional 20" 4:3 monitor and use my 16:10 monitor for my Windows machine and my Mac Mini - means I can interact with both SGIs and my PC at the same time too.

Best of luck with an SGI, but do remember that whilst they were superb machines for their time, that time was quite a while ago. Don't expect even a top-end Tezro to beat a modern PC/Mac in terms of 3D performance, or even come close for that matter, because it wont.

What you do get however is a snappy and responsive OS that is genuinely different to Windows/MacOS/Linux. If you like IRIX, that's worth a lot. And of course SGIs do look cool :)

Whatever you do though, keep expectations realistic. The OS is from the mid 90s, and the hardware technology even in a Tezro is still 15+ years old. Of course, the fact that you can still do neat and genuinely useful work with them is a good testament to how good they were back in the time.
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: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
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby s0ke » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:25 pm

I know there maybe a few users that are still using their Sgis/Maya for creating published/production content. But I would guess most use it strictly for nostalgia purposes. If you have a favorite tool/shortcut..etc in 2016. I would make 100% sure it works in 6.5. Granted you should be able to easily re-create it in MEL. I don't use the animation toolset much. So I couldn't tell you what's different. Just be warned you may find yourself trying to fix minute differences between the two software versions. I know I did. Occasionally I will try and re-create a python script in MEL on 6.5 just for comparison, but I rarely use the Fuel much for any real Maya work.
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby vishnu » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:08 pm

uunix wrote:I'm to be convinced of your choice there Vishnu (Octane2 over Fuel), based not solely on the noise level of these machines compared to the fuel, but I respect the speed of a good fuel. But I will stand corrected after I have witnessed own testing.


You're right in that the Fuel can run the 900MHz CPU whereas the Octane tops out at 600, but in my opinion the two CPU Octane wins big if you want to batch Mental Ray renders while still using Maya. The IRIX scheduler to me seems like crap, when I run my blackjack simulation it stops absolutely dead for a second every few seconds. On my Linux box it runs far more smoothly... :roll:
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby duck » Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:03 pm

As others have said, before you go spending a lot of money on a SGI workstation (whatever the model) you really should think again to use it for anything serious. Even highly specced workstations are dog slow by modern standards, and while people here might be using them, it's pretty much all rosy-tinted glasses of nostalgia and fascination for the fine engineering. If that's what you want, fine, but modelling and rendering even mildly complex scenes requires buckets and buckets of patience (or a moderately large Origin).

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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:23 pm

I'll also put a vote in for the Fuel, but my Fool does have a 900MHz card, and most of my workload on it isn't heavily parallel.
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby foetz » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:30 pm

robespierre wrote:But even by then the main platform for A|W was Windows, so performance on Irix is not that good. Same problem with Softimage XSI.

no idea where you got that from but no, xsi and maya on irix are in no way comparable.
when maya hit the market it was under the sgi roof so you can be sure they did the irix version well. the xsi development on the other hand started when softimage was owned by microsoft and their primary target was windows of course. there never was an irix nor linux port of xsi but instead it ran in some sort of emulator called mainwin. that's why it was so crappy.

The 3d tools with the best performance in Irix are Lightwave 5.6, Softimage 3.9 or 4.0, Houdini 5 or 6, Alias Studio Tools 9, Mirai 1.2, and there are many others.

sorry but i have to jump in there as well. you have to make a difference between geometry display performance and the rest of the ui because sometimes they're quite different. lightwave for example has a superfast ui but the geometry performance is mediocre at best.
as for houdini, everything after 5.0 didn't run well at all. at that time they applied major changes to the ui and that ran terribly on irix.
mirai won no speed awards in any regard. i never used version 1.2 specifically but the ones i used we're quite sluggish across the board.

as far as geometry speed goes maya is unmatched. nothing else that's available for irix can compete there. the ui however isn't so great although compared to the qt ui of more recent versions it's very good :P
for ui speed the oscar goes to alias. nothing else i've ever used until today is so snappy and fast and if you're using a late version you also have the greatest icons ever made :D

uunix wrote:I tried the Maya 2015 last year and couldn't work out where the bloomin on off button was let alone where my Hypershade had gone

the hypershade is still the same in 2015. the changes were added only to 2016 but maybe you mean the multilister.

vishnu wrote:the extra processors make a big difference if you want to run Mental Ray while you're modeling or in particular if you're playing back scenes.

for gfx work multiple cpus always win but keep in mind that for maya in particular there're a few things to think of.
for example maya's native renderer doesn't use multiple cpus for everything such as shadow maps and maya versions after 5.0 are limited to 2 cpus for mental ray no matter which license you have.

s0ke wrote:I know there maybe a few users that are still using their Sgis/Maya for creating published/production content. But I would guess most use it strictly for nostalgia purposes

duck wrote:while people here might be using them, it's pretty much all rosy-tinted glasses of nostalgia and fascination for the fine engineering.

sure that's one part but not the only one. back in the day an sgi and the programs sold for not so moderate 5 digit prices each and the customers of course had expectations accordingly so you can imagine that the software companies had a different attitude.
a couple of examples of "modern" stuff:
the pre-qt ui of maya for osx was junk. the widgets didn't fit and sometimes when scrolling the content of the textfields vanished ... and so on. then the qt versions took over and so did sluggishness. a pre-qt version of maya on osx is at least twice as responsive as a later one on the same machine.
another nice and a new feature (again thanks to qt) is that you can change the ui to a couple of presets. great you might think in case you don't like dark uis. might have cheered a little too soon tho because the other "styles" don't fit. for example the macintosh style cuts off the buttons. the lower half is covered by the bottom of the window and no matter how large you drag the window it never fits :P
in case you're a renderman user and happily jumped on version 19 or later it might have been a major disappointment. reyes in particular because now gi only works with the custom rms materials which is quite a showstopper. and ironically even if you do that it's much slower and of worse quality compared to before :P

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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby IAMNOTDEFECTIVE » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:42 pm

duck wrote:As others have said, before you go spending a lot of money on a SGI workstation (whatever the model) you really should think again to use it for anything serious. Even highly specced workstations are dog slow by modern standards, and while people here might be using them, it's pretty much all rosy-tinted glasses of nostalgia and fascination for the fine engineering. If that's what you want, fine, but modelling and rendering even mildly complex scenes requires buckets and buckets of patience (or a moderately large Origin).


I have not forgotten they are old machines. Besides, I do animation as a hobby... A very time consuming hobby... XP

I wasn't thinking of rendering on these machines, I just wanted RenderMan for IRIX so I could import my scenes/assets without Maya checking up errors about missing texture nodes more then anything else. I also know that performance will not match say, a 10-core Xeon V3 processor but my Dad actually has a RiscPC SA as his main workstation to get things done... I guess that my family just like working on "legacy" hardware... XD
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby IAMNOTDEFECTIVE » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:45 pm

Trippynet wrote:
IAMNOTDEFECTIVE wrote:Also I noticed I derped in the original post, I forgot to mention my display is actually a Ultrawide Monitor... Whoops! XP
However, in the end I found it easier to run my SGI machines through a conventional 20" 4:3 monitor and use my 16:10 monitor for my Windows machine and my Mac Mini - means I can interact with both SGIs and my PC at the same time too.


I said I had an UltraWide monitor, IE 21:9, so that would be a problem if you had a problem getting a 16:10 display working all honky dory.
Hackintosh VW (Late 2015) - Core i7-4790k, Geforce GTX 970, 8GB RAM (http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/PwQ8pg)
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Re: Should I take the dive?

Unread postby robespierre » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:30 pm

Thanks foetz, I knew you would supply lots of details in this area ;)
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