Issue: Volume: 24 Issue: 2 (Feb 2001)

Faster Graphics for Octane2

The new graphics systems, V12 in particular, appear to reinforce SGI's commitment to high-end Unix (Irix) applications. Though traditionally known for providing sheer performance rather than price/performance, the company has made attempts in recent years-with its NT workstations, for example-to attract less rarified segments of the market. V12, however, is aimed at "customers who are really trying to break new ground," says Octane2 product marketing manager Dixie Fisher.

The V12 graphics system draws more than 18 million triangles per second, and maintains a pixel fill rate of 448 megapixels per second. The V12 also supports 48-bit RGBA (red, green, blue, alpha) color, double buffered with a 16-bit Z-buffer. Though the V12 has the same amount of onboard graphics memory-128mb-as the V8, its hardware has been optimized in order to provide faster performance. The V10 graphics card, with 32mb of graphics memory, also features optimized hardware that makes it faster than its counterpart, the V6.

Also new from SGI is its Dual Channel Display feature, which allows one VPro graphics board to support two monitors at resolutions up to 1920 by 1200 at 72hz on each screen. The dual-channel technology requires no additional software, drivers, or graphics board slots. Next year, SGI will also introduce a dedicated digital video system based on Octane2.

Prices for the systems vary according to configuration. The Octane2 with V12 graphics starts at $28,495 and includes a 400mhz MIPS R12000a processor, 256mb of system memory, 128mb of graphics memory, a 9gb Ultra SCSI system disk, and a 21-inch monitor. A 360mhz system with V10 graphics starts at $20,995. The new dual-channel display option is available only with the V12 graphics system, at a cost of $3000. (SGI: -JD