If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

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If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby Dodoid » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:26 pm

Warning - Technologically unlikely and nonsensical from a business point of view hypothetical scenario ahead

Let's say it uses a highly parallel array of ARM CPUs to achieve a performance advantage over a modern Xeon workstation similar to the Indy's advantage over PC's of the time, and is priced at $8349.99, roughly the MSRP of an Indy adjusted for inflation. Let's also say it is aesthetically similar both in software and hardware to IRIX and the old machines (not that SGI/Rackable would do this, as it would be considered outdated by those who aren't enthusiasts for the original systems). Would you buy this hypothetical machine (and would you buy it for that price?), or would you stick with x86 for modern stuff and MIPS for your SGI gear?

Edit: Forgot to mention this, which is dumb of me as this part is important. The machine would include graphics hardware with the above Indy to pc advantage. Sort of seemed obvious to me as they are graphics machines but it did sort of sound like they would be CPU only. Sorry for any confusion.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby Dennis Nedry » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:48 pm

That doesn't sound very 90s at all.

Back then, MIPS was a pretty decent competitor for x86. And SGI had some really bitchin' graphics hardware on top of that. The combination of a powerful CPU and a powerful GPU is what made those machines shine.

What you're suggesting sounds like some sort of specialized system with a bunch of low power, low performance ARM cores. Maybe the total raw computational power of the machine exceeds anything Intel has to offer, but that doesn't change the fact that not all applications out there are designed for massively parallel operation.

So no, I don't think I'd buy such a machine. It just sounds too proprietary and way too specialized to be of any use.

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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby Dodoid » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:34 pm

Dennis Nedry wrote:That doesn't sound very 90s at all.

Back then, MIPS was a pretty decent competitor for x86. And SGI had some really bitchin' graphics hardware on top of that. The combination of a powerful CPU and a powerful GPU is what made those machines shine.

What you're suggesting sounds like some sort of specialized system with a bunch of low power, low performance ARM cores. Maybe the total raw computational power of the machine exceeds anything Intel has to offer, but that doesn't change the fact that not all applications out there are designed for massively parallel operation.

So no, I don't think I'd buy such a machine. It just sounds too proprietary and way too specialized to be of any use.

-DN


Amended the post with an edit about graphics, sorry if it was unclear. I kind if meant it to be included in the "same advantage as an Indy had" part but from what I said it did sound a lot like a CPU only machine, which was not the intention at all.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Well, I suppose if you handwaved and said "awesome graphics" we'd all want one ...

But modern GPUs are so advanced I don't think there's room in the market for another competitor. Remember how hard Intel tried? Remember how hard they failed?

I would certainly love a modern RISC workstation (SGI or otherwise), but I'm saving my pennies for a Raptor TALOS, if that gets off the ground. https://www.raptorengineering.com/TALOS/prerelease.php
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby uunix » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:24 pm

I wouldn't buy it SGI is not the company I fell in love with..
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby jimmer » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:52 pm

No. There really is no point to it.

My daily driver is an AMD Athlon II X4 620 at 2.6Ghz with 8Gb RAM, a 256Mb SSD and an AMD RadeonHD 6850 cobbled together from parts in 2009. It does everything I need it to do with ease. I might at somepoint succumb to technolust and buy something new (possibly the upcoming AMD Zen thing), but hardware failures aside I dont think I'll ever need to spend another penny on 'modern' computing tech.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby Dodoid » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:41 pm

ClassicHasClass wrote:...a Raptor TALOS, if that gets off the ground. https://www.raptorengineering.com/TALOS/prerelease.php


Haven't heard of that, interesting project. I hope if it succeeds they lower the price after a while or release a cheaper version, that price is a bit hard to stomach as it is but if it were somewhat closer to the cost of a comparable x86 CPU and motherboard I would be very interested in it.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby tomvos » Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:10 am

I would not buy a workstation for over 8000 $.

Personally, I think the era of the workstation is over. It's a niche. A few people might be able to justify a "parallel ARM + uber-GPU" workstation for their business requirements … that's OK. But I doubt that any workstation project with a 8000 $ price tag would disrupt or revive the market.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby smj » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:38 pm

I think the SGI value proposition in the 90s wasn't sufficient didn't start low enough for hobbyists - many/most Nekochanners fall into this category, not all - to be shelling out for their gear. Maybe the odd bare bones Indy, but It's the drop in price of old models / abandoned product lines that really let most of us in. I could never have justified what an Octane2 w/ V12 sold for in its heyday, for example...

The other nekochanners who are active in vfx/CAD - hey, maybe it would make sense. But I expect the imaginary new system(s) would have to give them a combination of capabilities unavailable from other platforms, and the ability to crank out finished work much faster than by using any alternatives. Isn't that combination what drove people to SGI Bank In The Day?

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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby uunix » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:41 pm

smj wrote:The others who are active in vfx/CAD - hey, maybe it would make sense. But I expect the imaginary new system(s) would have to give them a combination of capabilities unavailable from other platforms, and the ability to crank out finished work much faster than by using any alternatives. Isn't that combination what drove people to SGI Bank In The Day?


I can Max out an Apple Mac pro for £3 -£4 K.. would this machine offer an advantage?
[edit] Sorry I was looking an the iMac from last night dream buy.. ok Maxed out Pro about £8k
[edit - edit] £374 over 24 months..
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:35 pm

didn't start low enough for hobbyists


I drooled over the Indy as an undergraduate. Financially, it was just out of reach, even the lowest "slug" spec.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby pentium » Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:02 pm

I seem to recall that years ago someone here made a post talking about how they had saved up for an O2 and he went to SGI, was rather warmingly welcomed considering he was walking in off the street to buy a machine. They gave him coffee and doughnuts and a small tour and when they finally sat down to order the machine he asked what speck of a machine he could get for $5000.
He went home empty handed.
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby Dodoid » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:23 pm

pentium wrote:I seem to recall that years ago someone here made a post talking about how they had saved up for an O2 and he went to SGI, was rather warmingly welcomed considering he was walking in off the street to buy a machine. They gave him coffee and doughnuts and a small tour and when they finally sat down to order the machine he asked what speck of a machine he could get for $5000.
He went home empty handed.


That's kind of weird considering that the O2 launched at around $10,000 and by the time this forum even existed both Octanes, the O2+, and the Fuel (which cost as much as the O2 did at launch) were already out, making the O2 really rather long in the tooth. Maybe they didn't want to make a sale of a single machine, or maybe they would rather have sold him the newer fuel as opposed to the old system? Not surprised that he got food, apparently SGI always had food of some sort sitting around their buildings (https://www.quora.com/Why-did-SGI-Silicon-Graphics-fail and https://www.quora.com/What-was-it-like-working-at-SGI both have former sgi employees talking about the food)
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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby foetz » Thu Jul 28, 2016 6:37 am

i'd buy it if the software side is right, too. meaning a proper, proprietary unix and a nice selection of decent programs for that ... just like it used to be. then it'd be a "hell yeah" :D

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Re: If SGI announced a non-x86 graphics workstation similar to their 90s machines today, would you buy it?

Unread postby vishnu » Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am

At my place of employ we bought SGIs (and later Suns) because in those days there was no Pro/E port to the PC. We've still got a bunch of Blade 2500s and Ultra 45s lying about but now everyone runs Pro/E (actually Creo) on a high-end PC with a late model Nvidia card, running Windows 7. SGI made a huge mistake not entering the PC graphics hardware market, they could have been Nvidia. Jim Clark rang the warning bell for a couple of years in the early 90s, but the board under the leadership of Ed McCracken ignored him, so he left and made himself a few billion dollars at Netscape and WebMD. And he married Kristy Hinze. I call that a Jim Clark win and an SGI fail.... :lol:

EDIT: Oops sorry I meant to hit the topic! Our Pro/E models at work push our desktops past their limit, we have a crapton of rules and regs to follow to keep our models simple with regard to the features of every widget, fastener, chamfer, raidus, keyway etc., often to the fail of the poor guys in assembly who end up having to file-to-fit (*ahem* the M109A7 *ahem*), so I think such a workstation as the subject of this thread, if it really did have a significant advantage in the graphics arena (which the Prism and Octane3 sort of did but not really), I think it would sell. But I wouldn't buy one for myself because I'd probably already have one on my desk at work... :lol:
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