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Silicon Graphics Incorporated announced today its new Silicon Graphics Onyx4 UltimateVision, the fourth generation of the most successful visualization system in its class, which starts at $45 thousands - one-fifth the price of previous Onyx system - and may rise well above $300 thousands. Such level of relative affordability was achieved because of various measures and also because SGI utilized typical graphics processors from ATI Technologies.

Onyx4 systems are available immediately with configurations designed to meet the complex visualization needs of the individual user, of small teams collaborating to improve accuracy and delivery times, and of the most advanced visualization experts. Configurations range from two microprocessors and two pipelines, in a system that fits under a desk, to 64 MIPS 16000A microprocessors and 32 [graphics] pipelines. For more extreme visualization needs, custom solutions can be designed.

Onyx4 UltimateVision also comes complete with the power and flexibility necessary to create extremely high-resolution environments. Even the smallest configuration can deliver 20M pixels of highly interactive graphics, enough to power two ultrahigh-resolution 10M pixel LCD displays. At the top end, Onyx4 can render over 100M pixels of display, enough to power the next generation of fully immersive environments.

According to SGI, the Onyx4 UltimateVision system raises the bar in visualization by delivering:

  • A system architecture that, in a single system configuration, scales from two to 32 graphics processors, or pipelines-more than twice the scalability over previous Onyx systems and 16 times over the nearest system competitor;
  • Eight times the system performance of an Onyx InfiniteReality;
  • Up to 80 times the pipe bandwidth over competing cluster solutions;
  • Price points and configurations tailored to empower individuals, transform team productivity and scale to tackle the most extreme visualization challenges.

Currently there is no information regarding the graphics processors used in SGI’s new Onyx4 UltimateVision system, but personally I expect the chips to be typical RADEON 9700 or 9800. In fact, utilisation of off-the-shelf graphics technology by a company who practically invented today’s 3D graphics standards means that consumer graphics processors have ultimate power and endless scalability nowadays. Probably pricing of solutions powered by consumer’s technologies is seriously lower compared to proprietary technologies used by HP, Sun and SGI. As a result, expect all of them to utilise less expensive and not proprietary components within the next years.

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