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Desktops

SGI updates midrange Unix server

The company unveils its Origin 350 Unix server, a descendant of the two-year-old Origin 300 that has more new processors, additional memory capacity and faster input-output capability.

SGI announced Tuesday its Origin 350 Unix server, a descendant of the two-year-old Origin 300 that has more new processors, additional memory capacity and faster input-output capability.

The system can be purchased with between two and 32 processors and with as many as 62 PCI-X slots for plugging in high-bandwidth devices such as Fibre Channel or gigabit Ethernet network cards. It can accommodate as much as 64GB of memory.

Like the Origin 300 introduced two years ago, the 350 comes in rack-mountable four-processor modules, each 3.5 inches tall, that can be stacked together to form a single large system. The systems also accommodate special-purpose chassis for extra memory or input-output slots.

SGI is aiming the system at broadcast and military customers who need a fair amount of computing power in a small space, such as a mobile broadcast or operations center. For government and defense markets, SGI's Origin 350 systems can be stacked in a single rack along with storage components that collectively can receive, process and archive data.

In the late 1990s, SGI attempted to penetrate the general-purpose server market but was rebuffed by bigger players such as IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard and by a tight economy. The company now is focused on its core market, which is high-performance technical computing, particularly projects with intense graphics demands such as visualizing data or creating three-dimensional models of new cars.

IMAGE TEXT HERE The new system comes with the faster MIPS R16000 processors, compared to the R14000 processors in the Origin 300, Addison Snell, SGI's product manager for high performance computing, said in an interview. In addition, it can accommodate double the memory--as much as 8GB per four-processor node.

A lower-end Origin 350 with four processors and 2GB of memory costs $34,580. With eight processors and a separate expansion cabinet for more input-output slots, the price climbs to about $78,000, Snell said.

SGI's Origin 350 systems use the company's own Irix version of the Unix operating system, as well as its MIPS processors running at 600MHz to 700MHz. In January, the company debuted its Altix 3000 system with 64 Intel Itanium 2 processors that runs Linux.