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Silicon Graphics Ships Server Running NT

Silicon Graphics Inc. (www.sgi.com) today unveiled a Windows NT server to complement its Windows NT workstations and its high-end Unix servers.

The 4-way SGI 1400M is intended as a workgroup server or an application server, and it is SGI’s first server based on a processor from Intel Corp. SGI simultaneously launched a Linux version, the SGI 1400L. The new line of Intel-based servers is labeled the SGI 1000 server family.

With a customer base primarily in scientific circles and increasingly in technical business areas, SGI has sold hardware and developed applications primarily for its own Irix flavor of Unix. Irix runs on SGI’s Origin servers, which use SGI’s own processors. Origin systems scale up to 256 of those SGI processors, and the company is working on 512-processor systems.

The company broke into the Windows NT workstation market with high-end workstation hardware offerings for compute-intensive graphical workstation applications, such as CAD/CAM, at the beginning of this year. The 1- and 2-processor Silicon Graphics 320 visual workstation shipped in February. A quad-processor Silicon Graphics 540 visual workstation was to be released in the second half of 1999. The company has also been porting applications, such as its data mining tool, MineSet 3.0, to Windows NT. SGI officials told financial analysts in January that they would eventually deliver an Intel-based server as well.

"I think for the most part the SGI 1400M will be sold as part of an overall SGI solution. It could be workstation-based, or it could be associated with an Irix server," says Courtney Carr, product manager for the SGI 1400.

Examples of the way an SGI 1400M system might be used are as a workgroup server for up to 10 of the SGI visual workstations for customers who want to buy a complete system from one vendor. It also provides an SGI-supported tier between a back-end Origin server and workstations for applications that run on Windows NT but not on Irix.

Analyst David Witzel of D.H. Brown Associates Inc. (www.dhbrown.com) puts the move in the context of SGI’s plans to promote Irix to a dual-platform OS that runs on SGI’s chips and Intel’s chips. SGI is coordinating the Irix port to Intel processors with Intel’s jump from 32-bit to 64-bit chips with the Merced processor that is expected next year.

"It’s something they felt they needed to do as a stopgap measure to keep their customers totally focused on SGI," Witzel says of the SGI 1400M. "I don’t see this as being even positioned to compete as a mass-market server."

Plans call for a 2-processor version of the SGI 1400s by the end of 1999 and 8-way systems in 2000. -- Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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