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Silicon Graphics announces new workstation.

The performance and graphics capabilities of the Iris line of workstations from Silicon Graphics Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) are well regarded in the engineering user community. At the same time, the expense of Iris computers has placed them out of reach of many. In the words of one engineer, "They always keep our mouths watering."

In September, Silicon Graphics will begin shipping in quantity a new member of the Iris family, the Indigo, intended for the low-end Unix workstation marketplace. Indigo promises 3-D graphics, CD-quality audio, and Advanced Computing Environment (ACE) Risc-compatibility for under $10,000. Silicon Graphics also announced ComputerAided Software Engineering (CASE) and applications development software for Indigo that supports the Iris Graphics Library environment. According to David Bagshaw, vice president of advanced systems division marketing at Silicon Graphics, Indigo is an attempt to reach out to the masses of engineers that have turned to Sun Microsystems or 386-based platforms for low-cost workstations. "This is our move toward generalpurpose scientific and engineering functions like CAD," Bagshaw said.

In making the move to the low end, Silicon Graphics tried to retain a measure of high-performance and 3-D color graphics capabilities. The compact Indigo box contains an R3000A RISC processor equipped with an on-board instruction and data cache. This CPU provides 30 mips (million instructions per second) and 26 Specmarks. Silicon Graphics has developed a new 8-bit graphics card architecture that does much of the graphics processing in parallel rather than serially. Combined with antialiasing techniques and supporting the Iris Graphics library, the Indigo produces true-color 3-D graphics.

The Iris Indigo can be expanded by adding real-time video cards, memory, I/O, and storage devices. The system has five audio, one parallel, one SCSI, one Ethernet, and two serial connections. The disk can be expanded to 1.3 gigabytes of hard disk and the RAM to 96 megabytes. Indigo retains binary compatibility with the rest of the Iris line. Silicon Graphics supports the ACE based on the Mips R3000A chip. On the system software side, the Indigo runs Irix 4.0, Silicon Graphics' implementation of Unix.

Shipping with Indigo is the Iris Navigator, a graphical applications development environment. By connecting software modules, represented by blocks, together in a flow chart arrangement, users can create their own applications. The building blocks perform specific program functions like data reading, data analysis, image processing, geometric and volume rendering, and other tasks. A finite element analysis can be set up in minutes by properly arranging Navigator blocks.

Another applications development and maintenance tool can be found in Casevision, Silicon Graphics' first foray into the CASE marketplace. The integrated Casevision tool set contains a static analyzer, a debugger, and a performance analyzer. The object-oriented CASE system provides programmers with a way of viewing code in the form of tables, charts, and graphs in OSF/motif windows. Casevision will ship independent of Indigo late this year.

The base price for the Iris Indigo is $7995, which includes 8 megabytes memory and a 16-inch color monitor. Systems with the monitor, 8 megabytes of memory and a 236megabyte formatted disk drive are priced at $9995.
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Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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