Yup... "Silicon Graphics´ toaster"...
isn´t it cute?
Quite some gemstone of a computer... as said already:
among the finest ever built.
...and off we go into some serious blabla...
you may as well return to the menu on the
When new, SGI´s babies were (and are) quite unaffordable to normal people, but with time passing by some of these machines finally became available on the second hand market.
It is amazing to see that enthusiasts and amateurs all over the world take care of machines they mostly got off ebay for cheap - machines that may easily have cost their previous owners quite a fortune.
With a little luck, a van and some friends of yours who help carrying away privateers can own a Cray Y-MP nowadays and use it as a radiator...
Software, however, has also "evolved" over time and - now that some GHz CPUs are at hand for about no costs - is very often feature- and gimmick-laden but not at all optimized for speed, which makes day-to-day usage of elderly computers, even the most beautiful ones, an uncomfortable experience.
Some of the more engaged enthusiasts sometimes dream of making their machines faster...
now that is what this page is about: a user by the name of Chicago Joe once posted in the hardware forum at nekochan.net that he managed to implant a recent MIPS R7000@600MHz CPU into SGI´s O2 (the variant with the 304 HDBGA CPU package which is RM5200 or RM7000). Luckily the RM7000 is completely pin- and instruction set compatible with former R5200 and R7000 CPUs - the ones used in later R5k O2 computers by SGI.
Joe replaced the old 300MHz or 350MHz CPU with a 600MHz one... that´s not overclocking, this is real tuning by the implant of a double-as-fast processor! Since his first posting, his thread became the most viewed thread ever there - it got hundreds of answers and about 25.000 views - absolutely impressive.
For owners of O2 machines suited for that fabulous rework job located in Europe there is a way to let the soldering be done without shipment to the US and back, by a company in Aachen, Germany (Aix-La-Chapelle, Allemagne)... unfortunately they do not deal neither with privateers nor single-board-repair customers. They need batches of about ten ore more in order to obtain the components (not only cheaper, but at all).
The CPU surgery is not only about speed... on the other hand, these actual PMC Sierra RM7000@600MHz CPU derivated from the MIPS RISC architecture is designed for use in embedded systems originally and therefore does consume extremely few power, approximately 2-3 Watts... again: compare that with "modern" CPUs! These suck up more than 30 times of that, and require huge heat sinks and fans...
a 600MHz O2 does not need such a thing at all. There´s one fan in the power supply, that´s all.
If you think energy efficiency is not an important issue - just wait for the day when SUVs have burnt all the fuel and neither nuclear warheads nor anthrax letters can buy new petroleum resources...
Did you notice that a clique of influental and wealthy "neocon" oilmonglers has seized power in the US and apparently begun trying?
There is no way out - our grandsons and -daughters will be forced to run their cars and computers with solar energy panels only. Economy must mature to run on the global energy income (solar constant is 1.4W per m² - that´s plenty!) instead of spending its fortune - which is nothing else but accumulated ancient sunlight (coal, oil and natural gas).
Yes, there is plenty of hydrogen on this planet which would make a nice energy "source" but unfortunatly most of it is tightly bound to oxygen and not at all willing to let go without huge amounts of energy.
Let´s face it: energy produces money - not the other way round.
But back to MIPS processors... these have been native 64-bitters for about ten years... and their RISC architecture makes them a lot faster than CISC CPUs - a 600MHz O2 feels like a 1.5GHz AMD CPU when running comparable applications, e. g. Mozilla Firefox or OpenOffice or the likes which are available for both LINUX/x86 and IRIX/MIPS.
Onother thing worth to notice about SGI´s O2 is that these machines are built following a paradigm that completely differs from the way computers were built before - even SGI machines.
In former times computers were built around the CPU, and programmer´s thinking was: "hey, I´m the CPU, I´m doing everything step by step, so what to do next?" If the workload - especially for graphics - became huge then special dedicated hardware, e. g. graphics processors - with which SGI was very good back then, hence the name - were put besides the CPU, but the latter was always king... in the O2 series SGI invented a different thinking. There is no special graphics or texture memory any more, and the main memory is now in the center of interest: all devices that have to handle data - no matter how much or fast - have extremely broad access to memory, which is not divided into main and graphics. That is called UMA or unified memory architecture. Now the thinking for programmers is more like: "hey, I´m the data, who is going to have the next dance with me?"
That may be a CPU, a video device, a disk controller or whatever... though, to be honest, for certain graphics intesive applications O2s are unfortunately less suited - epecially 3D CAD, where a dedicated graphics processor is unbeatable in shading and hidden surface removal while the CPU handles the high level math of part geometry, assembly constraints etc.
Other tasks are handled by these machines with incredible speed, e. g. video processing.
Have you ever seen a demo of a shaded object interactively moved on the screen while there is a video mapped onto the surface(s) of that object in real time?
O2 machines have been in use for videoclip production etc. in TV studios and the likes. Everyone who watches TV is accustomed to objects moving around while there´s running video mapped onto them from the news and sports intro clips. That´s what O2 were the workhorses for - being extremely well-adapted for doing fast high-level math on big chunks of data - matrix operations, equation systems and the likes of that.
Hey... now you almost made it to the bottom of the page, through the entire text amassed here for you! The end of the monoöoque is in sight! That makes it most probable you´re not an American, or are you? No intention to insult you (please apologize) - but there´s a saying that goes "the american people don´t read".
[Btw., that one is by Allen Dulles, while presenting the written congressional report that dealt with the background of the JFK assasination to the press - and being questioned by a journalist what he thought whoever could believe what was written within, the "magic bullet" hypothesis etc.]
[end of blabla...]