Silicon Graphics laptops

Funny Stuff, Hacks, Silicon Graphics FAQs
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There’s long been a rumour going round that the Silicon Graphics laptops in Twister were a real product, developed internally, and killed off without seeing the light of day. An SGI laptop is one of those recurring urban legends that everyone wishes was true. You could indeed get a Silicon Graphics laptop, but not in the way everyone thinks.

Twister

The laptops in Twister were fakes. They were mockups made by the special effects department, build around a Silicon Graphics Presenter display wired off-screen into an SGI Indy.

Twister SGI Silicon Graphics Indy laptop

You can read the full story of the effects in Twister on Banned From The Ranch’s website – have a look at http://www.bftr.com/Pages/projects/twister.html

SGI product placement dictated that ALL of the computers in the film had to be SGIs, so we had the task of making not only two distinctly different sets of graphics for nearly every scene, but different-looking EQUIPMENT between the two teams. This was nowhere more evident than with the SGI “laptops,” which of course didn’t exist. With the tireless dedication and help of Dan Evanicky at SGI, we were able to design and build two different fake laptop shells around the SGI Corona LCD flatscreen displays, with seven functional and seven dummy cases for each design, we had a handful to take care of; each “laptop” had a powerful custom backlight run off a separate 12-volt DC power supply and multiple cables which ran back off the set (often through mud and puddles) to the Indy CPUs which fed them.

Congo

Silicon Graphics Indys were used throughout Congo. The TraviCom datacentre featured Indys on the desks – complete with Indycam – as well as the 17″ SGI granite CRTs embedded in the walls and littering the desks.

Congo SGI Silicon Graphics Indy laptop

There was also a mockup Indy laptop that was used in the field by Laura Linney’s character. Again, this was rigged up by the special effects team.

The O2 laptop

When the O2 was being designed and built, some of the team decided to build a laptop around the O2 parts. You can see some screenshots, pictures of the machine, and some background story on the project at http://www.jumboprawn.net/jesse/projs/laptop.html

custom SGI Silicon Graphics O2 laptop

This was a one-off special build by the engineers working on the O2, and sadly never made it into production.

Military Indys

CRI are a company that build ruggedised military spec machines – essentially taking high performance Silicon Graphics kit, and giving it the full industrial makeover. At the moment they do rugged rack mounted Fuels, but back in the past they also created a rugged Indy laptop.

CRI ruggedized military SGI Silicon Graphics Indy laptop

The old product page has been archived – check out the LinC3D 75-FS Indy laptop.

They were all destined for military use, and doubtless will one day show up at government surplus auctions. Popular rumour has it that one has been up in the space shuttle to the ISS, and that they were also used in ships by the US Navy.

These were the only production SGI laptops made, and they weren’t even made by Silicon Graphics. Given the high price of the Tadpole SPARCbook machines in the 1990s, I shudder to think how much these would have cost. Damn cool though.

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Indy Model Summary

Silicon Graphics FAQs
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Silicon Graphics SGI Indy

Until the introduction of the O2, the Indy was SGI’s entry level workstation. It has an impressive range of features and ports, and remains a versatile machine.

CPU options
CPU type Speed (mhz) Secondary cache size
R4000PC 100
R4000SC 100 1MB
R4600PC 100
R4600PC 133
R4600SC 133 0.5MB
R4400SC 100 1MB
R4400SC 150 1MB
R4400SC 175 1MB
R4400SC 200 1MB
R5000PC 150
R5000SC 150 0.5MB
R5000SC 180 0.5MB

PC on a CPU module means Primary Cache (ie. only on-die cache). SC means Secondary Cache (ie. L2 cache on the module).

RAM:

The Indy has 8 slots, taking 72pin parity RAM. 4 SIMMS per bank, 2 banks total, giving a maximum of 265mb.
Memory can be either 4mb, 8mb, 16mb or 32mb, and must be the same size and speed within a bank.

Graphics:

Indy’s come with 3 main graphics options – 8bit XL, 24bit XL, and the XZ. The XL cards have decent 2D performance, but everything else is offloaded to the CPU. The XZ has some 3D acceleration (hardware Z buffer, geometry/lighting acceleration). However, it seems to be slower than the XL cards for 2D work.

Ports:

Lots of connectivity comes with the Indy as standard:

  • ISDN BRI port

  • PS/2 keyboard and mouse

  • 10-BaseT or AUI ethernet

  • External fast SCSI

  • S-Video in

  • Digital video in

  • IndyCAM

  • Sound (headphones, microphone, line-in, etc.)

  • Bi-directional printer port

  • 2 Mac-compatible serial ports

Drives:

The Indy has 2 internal 3.5 inch drive bays. These can either take the Floptical drive (SCSI drive that reads/writes normal floppies, and special 21mb ‘floptical’ disks) or normal hard drives.
If you want a CD or DAT drive, these can be connected via the external SCSI port – it is one SCSI channel though (unlike some other machines).

The internal SCSI connecters are 5mb/s SCSI-1. The cables for the hard drives are standard 50pin SCSI connectors. As SCSI as backwards compatible, any non-HVD drive will work. If the drive doesn’t have a 50pin connector, you will need to buy and install a converter.

Several people have reported success using IDE->SCSI converters, and installing IDE drives in their Indys.

More information:

Owner’s Guide

The Indy Owner’s Guide can be found on Techpubs.

A local copy can be downloaded from here. PDF icon

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Indy Periodic Table

Silicon Graphics FAQs
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SGI Logo

Indy Periodic Table


August 1996










XZ
24-bits Color

24 bits Z



Indy XZ

1.0M 3DVect

180K Tmesh

91K Polygons

Indy XZ

1.0M 3DVect

180K Tmesh

91K Polygons

Indy XZ

1.4M X11 Line

920K 3DVect

180K Tmesh

(A)
Indy XZ

1.5M X11 Line

920K 3DVect

180K Tmesh

(C)
Indy XZ

1.5M X11 Line

920K 3DVect

180K Tmesh

(A)
Indy 24-bit

Graphics




Indy 24-bit

1.6M X11 Line

601K 3DVect

46K Tmesh

(A)

Indy 24-bit

1.6M X11 Line

912K 3DVect

53K Tmesh

(A)/(C)

Indy XGE24

1.4M X11 Line

1.2M 3DVect

71K Tmesh

(A)
Indy XGE24

1.5M X11 Line

1.2M 3DVect

81K Tmesh

(A)/(C)
Indy XGE24

1.5M X11 Line

1.2M 3DVect

96K Tmesh

(A)/(C)
Indy 8-bit

Graphics

Indy 8-bit

1.5M X11 Line

573K 3DVect

36K Tmesh

(A)

Indy 8-bit

1.6M X11 Line

801K 3DVect

46K Tmesh

(A)

Indy 8-bit

1.6M X11 Line

912K 3DVect

53K Tmesh

(A)

Indy XGE

1.4M X11 Line

1.2M 3DVect

71K Tmesh

(A)

Indy XGE

1.5M X11 Line

1.2M 3DVect

81K Tmesh

(A)/(B)

Indy XGE

1.5M X11 Line

1.2M 3DVect

96K Tmesh

(A)/(B)


Indy

R4600PC/133MHZ

84.9 SPECint92

61 SPECfp92

75.4 AIM

Indy

R4600SC/133MHZ

113.5 SPECint92

73.7 SPECfp92

107.8 AIM

Indy

R4400/200MHZ

140 SPECint92

131 SPECfp92

130.3 AIM

Indy

R5000PC/150MHZ

3.0 SPECint95

3.6 SPECfp95

164.8 AIM VI*

Indy

R5000SC/150MHZ

3.7 SPECint95

4.2 SPECfp95

191.5 AIM VI*

Indy

R5000SC/180MHZ

4.1 SPECint95

4.4 SPECfp95

200.1 AIM VI*



(A) 32MB/1GB/17″

(B) 64MB/1GB/17″

(C) 64MB/2GB/17″


*AIM V1 is the current accepted benchmark for workstations. AIM Technologies
will no longer publish AIM III numbers in their Performance Guide.


Please Note: These systems are still available but not listed in the
August Price Book.

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