Silicon Graphics Ships Server Running NT

Silicon Graphics Inc. now has a Windows NT server to complement its Windows NT workstations and high-end Unix servers.

Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI, now has a Windows NT server to complement its Windows NT workstations and high-end Unix servers.

SGI unveiled its four-way SGI 1400M this month. The product is intended as a workgroup server or an application server, and it is SGI’s first server based on a processor from Intel Corp. Covering several bases, SGI simultaneously launched a Linux version, the SGI 1400L. The new line of Intel-based servers is labeled the SGI 1000 server family.

With a customer base primarily composed of scientific circles and technical business areas, SGI has sold hardware and developed applications primarily for its own Irix flavor of Unix. Irix runs on SGI’s Origin servers, which use SGI’s own processors.

At the beginning of this year the company broke into the Windows NT workstation market with high-end workstation hardware for compute-intensive graphical workstation applications, such as CAD/CAM. The one- and two-processor Silicon Graphics 320 visual workstation shipped in February. The company has also been porting its applications, such as the data mining tool MineSet 3.0, to Windows NT.

"I think for the most part the SGI 1400M will be sold as part of an overall SGI solution. It could be workstation-based, or it could be associated with an Irix server," says Courtney Carr, product manager for the SGI 1400.

One way the SGI 1400M system could be used is as a workgroup server for up to 10 SGI visual workstations for customers who want to buy a complete system from one vendor. It also provides an SGI-supported tier between a back-end Origin server and workstations for applications that run on Windows NT but not on Irix. One application that SGI customers frequently run on an NT server against back-end Origin data is the OLAP tool from MicroStrategy Inc. (, Carr says. Those customers would be able to put the MicroStrategy OLAP tool on an SGI 1400M, she says.

Analyst David Witzel of D.H. Brown Associates Inc. ( puts the launch in the context of SGI’s plans to promote Irix to a dual-platform OS that runs on SGI and Intel chips. SGI is coordinating the Irix port to Intel processors with Intel’s jump from 32-bit to 64-bit chips via the Merced processor, which is expected next year.

"It’s something they felt they needed to do as a stopgap measure to keep their customers totally focused on SGI," Witzel says of the SGI 1400M. "I don’t see this as being even positioned to compete as a mass-market server."

The Linux side of the SGI 1000 family may be more important to SGI strategically, Witzel noted. SGI has been working to get key components of Irix into the Linux code base. For business customers, SGI positions the SGI 1400L as a Web, Internet infrastructure, messaging, proxy or security server targeted at ISPs. It is in this arena that SGI bares its competitive teeth. "Our goal is to be on par with Compaq with additional value-added services and higher quality support for that same price," Carr says.

Plans call for a two-processor version of the SGI 1400 by year end and an eight-way system in 2000.