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Pentium II goes Hollywood

Intergraph releases a relatively inexpensive Pentium II-based design that can compete in the film production arena.

Pursuing its stated goal of becoming the standard bearer for graphical computing on Windows NT, Intergraph today released a relatively inexpensive Pentium II-based design that can compete in the film production arena.

The Studio Z RenderRAX II is a computer optimized to handle rendering, the computing-intensive phase of graphical computing where thousands of lines of code get transformed into fancy graphical images. Rendering units concentrate computing horsepower on rendering tasks, thus speeding up the pace of graphics processing.

The RenderRAX II comes with two 300-MHz Pentium II processors, 128MB of memory, a 4GB hard drive, and a high-speed network connection. The unit fits into a standard 19-inch rack and can be linked with other rendering units to expand computing power. It sells for $9,750.

A rendering unit has all the features of a workstation, but is tweaked and trimmed to function as an add-on to a central workstation. Rendering units are therefore really "CPUs in a box," said Sharon Jordan, a spokeswoman for Intergraph.

So far, NT workstations have enjoyed most of their popularity in non-graphical markets, but that is changing rapidly. High-end graphics users have begun to expand their use of NT, said Jordan.

"These guys [Intergraph] are doing a very good job," said Peter ffoulkes, workstation analyst at Dataquest. "The way high-end stuff that SGI does can't be matched by NT systems but a lot of the lower-end stuff that SGI does, the O2 stuff, can be matched."

Magic Camera, a London-based computer graphics firm, is using RenderRAX units to perform rending for "Lost In Space", an upcoming epic based around the '60s TV show of the same name. Centropolis, another graphical house, is using the unit to perform work on the upcoming "Godzilla" remake due next year.

Increasing adoption of Intergraph technology has made it Silicon Graphics leading competitor.