SGI Indigo2 graphics options

Jules Richardson jules.richardson99 at
Tue Mar 31 20:11:29 CDT 2015

On 03/31/2015 10:24 AM, Sean Caron wrote:
> Anyway, more on-topic, congratulations, Jules, that's a fine system you
> have found!

Indeed it is! Although there were Indys and O2's available as well, the 
Indigo2 just seemed like the more interesting of the three - and that was 
before I discovered that it was fitted with such a high spec graphics option.

> My strongest Indigo2 is a bit of a Frankenstein :O Non-factory
> config... R10K at 175 Extreme in green skins

Green? I don't think I've seen that before, only the purple and teal 
variants. Was there some significance to the color in terms of hardware, 
target market etc., or was it just a customer option?

> one of the more rare R8K systems

I heard that those are uncommon (but also that performance is nothing to 
write home about, unless you're crafting code specifically for them)

> I was obsessed with these things when I was in high school :O

:-) It's taken me fifteen years (since I used to use SGI hardware at an old 
workplace) to find any systems of my own, although a few Indys, Challenges 
and 4D's passed briefly through my hands during my museum days. I think SGI 
had a habit of taking hardware back when the customer was done with it and 
destroying it, so there are comparatively few (compared to Sun etc.) still 
out in the wild.

> IMO, Indigo2 systems are great machines; I have found them to be very
> robust in the long-term although from my experience the Impact PSUs seem a
> bit more prone to failure than the non-Impact PSUs (the mode seems to be
> harmless to the rest of the system; it just one day decides it won't power
> on; reminiscent of how I've seen the Nidec supplies go on the Indys).

I'm certainly wary of loading this one up with more RAM just because the 
PSU must be reasonably stressed already running the graphics hardware and 
two drives. Eventually I think I'll put one of the drives into an external 
enclosure (or tweak things so it's not needed).

Oh, this machine has the optional feet for standing it sideways, too - I'm 
not sure if I mentioned that. I think I like that configuration more than a 
'slab' form factor, but I'm not sure if it's better or worse for heat 

> If you want to know the specifics, you have probably found this already,
> but there are two SGI-specific commands you can run from IRIX, "hinv" and
> "gfxinfo" which will tell you what's there.. You can also run "hinv" from
> the ROM monitor.

Yup. I *used* to know my way around them. I'm just very, very rusty right 
now :-)

I got an Origin 2200 at the same time which I'm just working on cleaning up 
at the moment. I've got four node boards for that one (2 CPUs per board) 
and an enormous quantity of RAM, but as of right now I'm not sure if the 
boards all have compatible CPU types (I think some mixing and matching was 
possible, but not all combinations work), and I have a feeling I may need 
an additional board (which I don't have) anyway to build an 8-CPU system. 
Still, 4 should be possible (and as a plus I can run that from a regular 



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