[geeks] SGI & linux
rob at dsvr.net
Wed Jul 30 04:02:09 CDT 2003
Bill Bradford wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 29, 2003 at 01:47:45PM +0100, Rob Fielding wrote:
>>hardware is probably going to remain IRIX. All old hardware (Octane down)
>>will remain IRIX. Any new hardware (starting headless, like the Altix) will
>>probably get Linux support from the people who'd write the IRIX hardware
> The Altix is *already* Linux-based:
> "SGI Altix 3000 servers and superclusters are the most scalable Linux.
> systems on the planet, running a single Linux OS image with 64 Intel.
> Itanium. 2 processors and up to 4TB of memory."
*sigh* Sorry Bill, sorry Caleb *but do we not know this already* Sometimes
posting to shared discussion groups causes the conversation to fall backwards
rather than move onwards.
I'll spend a few lines qualifying myself
The Altix is new hardware.
The Altix is headless
The Altix runs linux
Analysis. SGI have already started a linux and hardware synergy. They've
concentrated on providing IRIX and other SGI technologies into linux be it the
Linux Kernel (xfs, fam, ccNuma etc) or highlevel APIs (opengl, glut, performer
etc). X Windows still remains a last problem for them to adopt Linux as their
mainstay on machines which actually drive graphical consoles - ie ones that
run Xsgi - simply because maintaining their X system is probably as massive a
coding challenge to them as IRIX is. To recap that's 2 huge in-house software
projects (IRIX and X) which are now looking more obsolete next to Linux and
If they're seriously considering IRIX isn't worth continuing then they're less
likely to want to keep their in-house X system going either. If they want to
keep making servers and workstations which use X the options they must be
looking at are Linux + XFree86.
It totally makes sense. Drop IRIX and X in-house and use opensource. There's
far more developers, its more cost effective and it's now far more mature
software than 10 years ago. And with a little commercial vendor help (for the
purposes of this sentence we ignore SCO here:) Linux and X become *enterprise
ready* (gee, I've used synergy and enterprise ready, perhaps I'm becoming a
The adoption of Linux is simplified if they centre on one hardware platform
(O350) and the adoption of XFree86-4 is simplified if they use commercial GFX
hardware for which lowlevel support already exists (ATi).
They have simplified (or should that be `unified') their hardware platform.
They have just done so. The Altix is essentially the same hardware as their
Onyx and their Onyx is essentially the same as their Fuel and their Tezro.
They have announced the Onyx4 comes with ATi GFX and the Tezro will get ATi
GFX next year. This marks in my eyes the final changes necessary to begin a
SGI wide change in OS. They have disconnected themselves from two things here
which would otherwise tie them into two very expensive pathways. One is CPU
type. The other is expensive in-house graphics.
Now what I meant in my much shorter previous posting was that Linux will start
on their headless servers - it already has; the Altix run's Linux, it also
runs ia64, it also is based on the very same hardware as their Onyx. The next
phase will be whether MIPS based systems get Linux. It looks more likely that
Linux getting more MIPS support is going to be more workable than IRIX getting
more ia64 support [*], and this is only amplified by recent murmurs that cast
doubt on IRIX.
In my eyes the rollout is already in full swing. Or by design, they have
worked themselves into a place where they can more easily choose one path or
another. There's no two horses to back, there's little dependancy now between
their CPU and architecture and their GFX or their OS. They have freed
themselves by clever engineering - precisely what made them big in the first
place. Well, that and Jim Clark.
Geez sorry this posting is massive, but I felt necessary to explain myself
since there were postings which weren't really forward moving. Perhaps now
that I hope I've justified some background that prior knowledge like knowing
Indy can run linux and Altix is a linux machine can be accepted - and that's
not personal snobbery talking, I would have thought the geek list was well
aware of these things. Anyway I hope this goes somewhere towards the sensible
justification that SGI *might* go down a linux route instead of an IRIX one
sometime in the not to distant future.
As to the original poster - I don't think there's anything to worry about, but
you might want to look into making whatever you run on IRIX getting it ported
to Linux if you really want to future proof it.
[*] there was in internal project called IRIX-LE to run IRIX on little endian
systems. AFAIK It was never completed.
Thanks for reading,
rob at dsvr.net Development www.dsvr.co.uk
More information about the geeks