Issue: Volume: 23 Issue: 8 (August 2000)

Spotlight: SGI's New Irix Workstation

In order to meet those requirements, the Octane2 features an updated version of the company's VPro graphics system (two flavors are available-the V6 with 32mb of RAM and up to 8mb of texture memory, and the V8 with 128mb and up to 104mb of texture memory); single or dual MIPS RISC 64-bit R12000a processors with 2mb of L2 cache; an optimized front-side bus; up to 8gb of SDRAM; a 9gb or 18gb 10,000-rpm fast/wide Ultra SCSI drive; and full hardware acceleration of OpenGL 1.2, including imaging extensions.

The new VPro graphics cards feature what SGI refers to as OpenGL on a Chip-previous OpenGL hardware implementations were through several interconnected chips and were therefore less efficient. This accelerated OpenGL, combined with fast (425 million pixels per second) fill rates and geometry rates of 7.2 million triangles per second, and other attributes such as hardware accelerated specular shading, will enable and enhance operations such as interactive rendering of volumetric data sets used in medical imaging, or high-speed drawing needed for the manipulation of large models used in car design, for example.

Sarang Ghatpande, an analyst with D.H. Brown in Portchester, New York, says, "The VPro has some unique features-the largest onboard graphics memory on the Unix side, for example, and the hardware accelerated specular shading." These features won't necessarily show up in benchmark tests, he notes, but they will be attractive to certain classes of users.

The Octane2 V6, with 256mb of memory and a 9gb hard drive, starts at $19,995. The Octane2 V8, also with 256mb and a 9gb hard drive, starts at $24,995. Both run on Irix, SGI's flavor of Unix.

(SGI; Mountain View, CA; 650-960-1980;