Recommendations for High End Silicon Graphics?

Alan Hewat hewat at
Tue Aug 2 03:13:22 EST 1994

gusm at (Gus Mumme) writes:

> There was a recent discussion on the more cost effective
> Silicon Graphics workstations vs PCs running LINUX.
> Can people recommend a good configuration for a high end
> Silicon Graphics computer for users with a bit more money 
> to spend?  
> Bob Haushalter mentioned a "good" SG configuration costing 
> around US$15,000 (A$20,000).
> >1 150 MHZ IP22 Processor
> >FPU: MIPS R4010 Floating Point Chip Revision: 0.0
> >CPU: MIPS R4400 Processor Chip Revision: 5.0
> What could we expect to get for around the US$25,000, US$35,000 and
> US$45,000 mark?

The above is the fastest cpu at present at 24 mflops, and comes in 
either a green Indigo**2 box or a cheaper blue Indy box ($15k).  The 
difference is that the green box is more expandable ;-) (There will 
soon be a killer 8000 fpu rated at 100-300 mflops starting in the 
servers but which will probably make the green box but not the blue).

The famous purple Indigo boxes will soon be discontinued (They are
now all equalled or surpassed by the cheaper Indy models).

In the base model Indy or Indigo**2, the graphics is done by the cpu
and is directly proportional to its speed.  (Sufficient for real time
display and 3D rotation of most inorganic structures, especially on 
4400SC machines.  NB the coming R8000 is not for graphics, only cpu). 

Higher end machines have dedicated graphics processors. The new xz
Indy graphics is practically as good as the older 'elan' graphics 
(4 dedicated graphics processors).  For 25-30k$ you might get an Indy
with xz graphics or an indigo**2 with elan graphics for a bit more.
Near the top end of your numbers, you may be able to get an Indigo**2 
with 'extreme' graphics = 2xelan.

But if you have this kind of money, don't spend it all on hardware !
Starting at 10 k$  you can get a very good crystallographic package 
(Cerius or BioSym) that makes it easy to visualise and model structures 
in 3D, provides a GUI interface to DBWS and GSAS Rietveld etc, and can
be extended to electron diffraction, amorphous materials etc etc. You
can get a free fully operational 30 day demo licence for MSI-Cerius and 
maybe for BioSym. (email Helen_Kent at in Cambridge UK).

(Prices are plus tax and assuming 30% educational discount in France).  
In Australia, prices may be a bit higher ;-) Be prepared to discuss the

Alan Hewat, ILL Grenoble, FRANCE (hewat at Fax (33)

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