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SGI boosts speed, drops prices

The cuts come amid huge changes at SGI, which has experienced losses due to miscues and an overall slowdown in the Unix market.

Silicon Graphics will introduce new workstations in its low-end and midrange product families while simultaneously cutting prices.

The cuts come amid huge changes at SGI, which has experienced three straight quarters of losses due to management miscues and an overall slowdown in the Unix-based workstation market.

Currently a Unix manufacturer, SGI is on track to become a vendor of Windows NT-based workstations and servers, as its first NT models are due toward the end of the year. SGI will also begin to gradually phase out its own MIPS processors in favor of the upcoming Merced processor from Intel.

In the meantime, SGI continues to refresh its Unix products and cut prices as part of its ongoing rivalry with Sun Microsystems, said Tom Gillis, product line manager at SGI.

On Friday, SGI will release a new "O2" workstation containing an MIPS R10000 processor running at 250 MHz. The 64-bit processor running at this speed has so far only been available on the higher-end Octane and Onyx2 models. The O2 is the entry-level family of SGI workstations. The computer will include 64MB of memory, a 9GB hard drive, and a 17-inch monitor and sell for $14,495.

The release will be accompanied by cuts in existing models. An O2 containing a 195-MHz R10000 processor, 64MB of memory, and a 4GB hard drive will be cut from $14,495 to $10,495, a 27 percent discount. Similarly, an O2 workstation containing a 200-MHz R5000 processor will be cut from $7,902 to $5,902.

In the middle range, SGI will introduce a new entry-level workstation in its Octane product line. The machine will come with a 225-MHz R10000 processor, 128MB of memory, a 4GB hard drive, and a 20-inch monitor for $19,995.

The Octane family uses a different architecture which requires much more dedicated graphics hardware than O2 workstations, said Gillis.

SGI will complement these upgrades with a major overhaul of its workstation line in the next 12 months, he added.