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SGI, Once Mighty Graphics Giant, Gobbled Up For Pittance by Rackable Systems

Apr 04, 2009, 12:01 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Alexander Wolfe)

[ Thanks to jhansonxi for this link. ]

"I want to be careful not to conflate MIPS with UltraSparc, since the latter is still in production. (You can get high-end servers powered by the UltraSparc T2 and T2+, aka Niagara 2. A wide mix of other SPARC chips and servers are also available, including the UltraSPARC T1, and SPARC64 VI and VII.) For its part, MIPS was spun off from Silicon Graphics as a separate company in 1998 and is now an IP silicon house, meaning it licenses its chip cores as intellectual property.

"OK, lengthy disclaimer aside, what this all means is that while the world's best chip designers were pushing the limits on instruction pipelines and doing gymnastics on silicon real-estate, the economic underpinnings of the business were changing beneath them. (This is the "being a blacksmith in 1910" meme, which is precisely what's happening in my business. As in, you're reading this content for free, but someone's gotta pay me to create it.)

"So, by the mid-1990s, new microprocessors were costing multi-millions of dollars to create, and at the same time commodity x86 processors were pushing, capability-wise, into the space previously owned exclusively by high-end proprietary RISC architectures..."

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