SGI announce their quarterly earnings call

Silicon Graphics News

SGI have announced that their earnings call for the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 will be held on the 4th November at 2pm Pacific Time.

The public is invited to listen to a live web cast of the call on the Investor
Relations section of the Company’s website at A replay of the
web cast will be available approximately two hours after the conclusion of the
call and will remain available until the next earnings call. An audio replay of
the conference call will also be made available approximately two hours after
the conclusion of the call. The audio replay will remain available for five days
and can be accessed by dialing 719-457-0820 or 888-203-1112 and entering the
confirmation code: 9725418.

This promises to be an interesting event, giving us a chance to see how things have developed since Rackable took over the bankrupt remains of Silicon Graphics earlier this year.

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SGI have terminated the entire graphics division

Silicon Graphics News

So, what does the ‘G’ in SGI stand for, now? Just returned from holiday to be greeted with the news that SGI have terminated their entire graphics division.

It seems like the entire VUE suite – including PowerVUE, the distributed and accelerated OpenGL rendering system – has been culled, as have all visualisation tools and products.

The VP of the Graphics Division, Bob Pette, has left to join NVidia – reminding me of the initial exodus of talent when that drooling imbecile Rick Belluzo was busy screwing over the Silicon Graphics customer base.

You can read Mark Barrenechea’s take on it over on his CEO blog.

This looks like a complete and total exit from the graphics market, and an ongoing commitment to ship GPU solutions from ATI, NVidia and Intel within their systems.

Randall Hand over at Vizworld has some more in-depth coverage as this unfolded.

John West over at InsideHPC also has a good post highlighting the issues this poses to SGI’s customers. After being told that the new SGI was 100% committed to transparency, and delivering a line of visualisation products, they’re now not acknowledging the layoffs and the technology termination. Where have I seen that sort of behaviour before? Oh yes – when SGI were previously flailing around.

SGI are finally reaping the rewards from years of ignoring the consumer graphics market and the dangers that innovation there could pose to the company. The surprise is not that it happened, but that it took this long.

Sadly Gutted Innovation, anyone?

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Project Ultraviolet and the future of Itanium Altix

Silicon Graphics News

Those paying attention to Silicon Graphics history will recall Dr. Eng Lim Goh back in 2004 talking about Project Ultraviolet – a supercomputer that used different types of processor types in a single frame. Although the original white paper has vanished from the SGI site, has a mirror available here.

The idea of HEC Architecture (High Efficiency Computing) and Multi-Paradigm Computing is a good one, and we’ve already been seeing the fruits in that, specifically Altix gear with FPGAs, and the rise of the GPGPU. Is the current Project Ultraviolet the same beast as the one outlined 5+ years ago?

I mentioned back in February the possibility that, with Tukwila delays and Nehalem processors having a NUMA interface, the time was ripe for SGI to put Nehalem Xeons into the Altix.

Now that Rackable have taken over the shell of SGI and have finalised their product offerings, we can see an interesting mix of processing power. Rackable have both Opteron and Xeon in their gear, whereas the (old) SGI had Xeon and Itanium.

With the Nehalem Xeons having the QuickPath interconnect, and Opteron always having had the NUMA HyperTransport, is now the time for Itanium to be shown the door?

HPCWire and InsideHPC (who know their stuff and are well worth a read) seem to think so. Even the eternally inaccurate TPM at The Register is agreeing (top tip, Timothy – NUMAlink is not a ‘cluster’ interconnect).

Xeons and Opterons inside the shared memory Altix make a lot of sense – immediate cost savings, the chips already have NUMA interconnects so not too much engineering required, and an instant boost in apps and developers.

Existing Itanium customers aren’t going to be too happy, but I’d point people at John Mashey’s excellent essay on the design behind the NUMAflex architecture. These machines were designed to be flexible, to swap CPUs without having to swap the frames, I/O subsystems, and everything else, thus protecting the customer’s investment in the technology, and lowering the price (and pain) of upgrades.

SGI CEO Mark Barranechea has re-confirmed the company’s commitment to Itanium on his blog – but with so many existing customers running on Altix gear, it would have been a PR disaster not to.

I think it’s clear that the next Altix cc:NUMA system will be based around Nehalem Xeon processors. The odds are good that we’ll be seeing an Opteron version as well, and it’ll be interesting to see how that stacks up against offerings from Cray.

As for Itanium? I think we will be seeing a Tukwila based Altix next year sometime. After that, I doubt very much we’ll see future Itanium kit from SGI.

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Great interview with Jim Clark

Silicon Graphics News

Jim Clark is a true entrepreneur. He didn’t get lucky with one company – he’s founded and been involved in a number of successful businesses, a few of which you may even have heard of …..

Jim founded Silicon Graphics based on his pioneering work in computer graphics at Stanford University. After growing Silicon Graphics into a heavyweight that ruled the graphics and effects market, he went on to join Netscape.

The San Jose Mercury News have managed to score an interview with him, and I highly recommend you give it a read. There are very few tech visionaries who can repeat their success, but above and beyond that Jim is a very clever chap with a solid background in engineering.

The vision of Silicon Graphics was certainly mine. I taught the seven other founders computer graphics. The so-called Graphics Library, which now (as the OpenGL) is in practically every computing product on the planet, was the outgrowth of my teaching computer graphics for almost 10 years.

An interesting thing is that Jim is equally candid about what he did wrong as well as what he did right – a good lesson for any of us running our own businesses.

Microsoft was founded the same year as SGI, and they both went public in 1986. I had the experience of my own foolhardy opinion of the PC in those days — that it was a “toy” unworthy of the attention of real computer scientists.

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Silicon Graphics is back on the NASDAQ

Silicon Graphics News

Perhaps not quite in the way many of us would have hoped, but SGI is once again trading on the NASDAQ. This is also one of the final steps of Rackable’s transformation into Silicon Graphics International.

Rackable Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:RACK – News) announced today the completion of its legal name change to “Silicon Graphics International Corp.” The company also announced today that it will change its NASDAQ stock ticker symbol from “RACK” to “SGI.” The stock ticker change has gone into effect for the trading community on Monday, May 18, 2009.

Full press release on Yahoo! Finance can be found here.

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