SGI Indigo2 graphics options

Sean Caron scaron at
Tue Mar 31 20:46:55 CDT 2015

Sorry, it's a teal cabinet; I'm crass; I call them "green" and "purple",
respectively, for non-Impact and Impact I2s :)

You are right, even the interactive performance of the R8K had me a bit
taken aback; it feels more like you are on an R4K/100 or R4K/150 machine at
best. But I understand in its day it really flew on the FP codes; the claim
was something like the R8K could sustain the FP performance of a Cray Y-MP
EL CPU or something like that... I don't know if this claim was ever really
substantiated in the real world... But it's a neat little oddball; I like
having a white elephant around.

I guess I was just lucky to get into the hobby at the right time ca.
1999-2001 when a lot of this particular gear just happened to be hitting
the secondhand market... I got a lot of my gear from a great guy, Herb
Johnson, maybe a few other folks here have done business with him... he's
out on the east coast somewhere... and I think he got a lot of his stuff
from academic property dispo sales. I've gotten a few directly from
property disposition at various Michigan universities; a friend also got
one via the same means. Very little of what I've got came out of a private
commercial setting (although I have mostly /worked/ in academia).

Great that you got a pair of matching feet! Use em! I think the system
looks absolutely gorgeous when on stands. Laying an I2 horizontally on a
desktop does not do it justice, IMO ;) With all my SGI scrounging I only
ever ended up with one pair of stands and I keep them on my display
system... I don't know that it affects cooling efficiency much how you've
got it oriented so long as there isn't stuff piled up around the bottom
blocking airflow when the system is vertical.

Good luck with the Origin, I've never personally owned any SGI that
large... closest I come is I've got some guts to a Crimson. IIRC that
hardware was considered kind of "finicky" in its day so might not hurt to
run in a reduced config and keep some for spare parts.



On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 9:11 PM, Jules Richardson <
jules.richardson99 at> wrote:

> 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
> dissipation.
>  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
> outlet).
> cheers
> Jules

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