[rescue] quad head pci video cards

Joshua Boyd jdboyd at jdboyd.net
Mon Jan 5 16:31:55 CST 2009

On Mon, Jan 05, 2009 at 03:02:03PM -0700, Robert Darlington wrote:

Thanks for taking the question at face value.

> We used 2 "nodes" of BlueMountain which consisted of 2 rows of racks,
> 9 racks wide, although the middle racks were for the HIPPI
> interconnects. 128 cpus per row.   I'm not positive what the hardware
> was that actually drove the display if it was a custom thing or what.
>  As I understand it, this was the only thing in existence that could
> drive the huge displays at the 120Hz or higher frame rates used with
> the shutter goggles.  I don't work for the lab anymore, but I hear
> it's still the only thing around that can do the job and it gets fed
> by RoadRunner, currently #1 on the top500 list.  Video data got pumped
> around the building with a fiber optic link.  Here's some blurb I
> found about what we had, although not many details:

> http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/2002/F/20021891.html
> The displays were made up of some insanely high resolution rear
> projection monitors, 4 projectors high, 6 wide and were used for 3d
> animations of various software packags we wrote in house.  A favorite
> was a meteor impact that supposedly killed the dinosaurs.

Do you recall, were the moster rack sized CrayLink routers used
at all?  Was CrayLink used between racks, or was it strictly HIPPI
between racks?  I'm just curious how the really big systems (above 128
CPUs) were built.

As to the graphics, it certainly sounds like it could have been Infinite
Reality, but then I suppose it could just as easily be something third

> Originally the machine had 48 rows for 6144 cpus but 46 rows of racks
> went away sometime when I was there.  It was a sad day for an sgi
> fanboy.  Right around that time I watched the T94 go away as well.

That would have made for a depressing year.
> Again, I don't know what the actual hardware was that spit out the
> video signals.  It was definitely not an Onyx2.   We had some video
> cards for Origin 200's though, which were orphaned when sgi decided to
> stop sharing info with the manufacturer.  I had to run some early
> 6.5.x versions of IRIX that supported it because the later versions
> would not.  Sorry, I forget the vendor name.

I wasn't aware that there were ever third party video cards for the

For people with the gigachannel option, it is possible to hack in a
SI/SE card, but I believe that was never a supported option.

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