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One often hears descriptions of amazing hardware, perhaps a new disk with a huge capacity, or a massive TV demonstrated at a consumer show. But what about the more obscure items that computer users and others in industry often need and use on a daily basis? How extreme are these high-end commercial products compared to the systems most people use every day?

Here I present the best I can find in various areas. If you come across something interesting, please let me know and I'll add a reference to it. I hope some of the items here drop your jaw as much as they did mine when I first read about them. Note that the items described here refer to genuine commercial products that can be bought - no mention is made of any advanced products that are either one-off specially-made items, or something that only exists in a research lab; such things are discussed elsewhere on FutureTech.

Flatbed Scanners:

AgfaScan T8000

[AgfaScan T8000]
660 to 8000 dpi raw (without interpolation), 16bit per RGB channel sampling (48bit colour!), 12"x18" scan area, 2GB internal disk, weighs 180kg (400lbs), stands 1m high and costs $37500!

DAT Drives and Backup:

DCRsi 240 Digital Cartridge Recording System

[DCRsi 240] [CDRsi5000]
0 to 30MB/sec variable data rate (37.5MB/sec burst rate), 50GB per storage cartridge (DCRsi5000), 72MB internal I/O buffer, and the price? No idea. But this is what they stored the 777 Aircraft on!

Data Grabbers:

DIS 820i Automated Cartridge Library

[DIS 820i]
This system is designed for real-time data aquisition with fast access for automated data processing. 6.4TB (6400GB) capacity using 25GB cartridges, uses up 21 square feet of floor space, 60MB/sec sustained data capture (80MB/sec when using DIS160i tape drives), robocartridge exhange rate of 600 cart changes/hour, average access time to any file (including cartridge exchange, drive load and search to data at 800MB/sec) is just 30 seconds. When it comes to cartridge capacity, there's also the DIS120i which uses 50GB, 150GB and 330GB DD-2 tape cartirdges (sustained transfer of 15MB/sec).

Graphics Supercomputers:

SGI Onyx2 RealityMonster

[SGI Onyx2 RealityMonster]
I could write a book on how amazing this system is and what it can do, but hopefully the specs can convey something of its awesomeness. For detailed info, consult the Onyx2 Technical Report. Note that the limit of 16 graphics pipes for parallel rendering will be removed at some point; the limit is just arbitrary in the OS just now. Los Alamos has a 6144-CPU CrayOrigin2000 (Blue Mountain) part of which is indeed a 128-CPU/16-pipe Onyx2 IR2 RealityMonster, so presumbaly they'll be one of the first customers to go beyond 16 pipes when that ability becomes available.

The Onyx2 RealityMonster I run has 16 R10000 250MHz CPUs (4MB L2 per CPU), 5 graphics pipes (10 RMs), 4GB RAM, 200GB disk, 2 DIVO boards, a DPLEX board, an ATM board, and various other items (DLT, etc.)

Unit:   Single deskside to 32 desksides housed in 16 racks (2 desksides per rack),
CPUs:   2 to 128 300MHz R12000 CPUs (18.4 SPECint95, 34.4 SPECfp95 per CPU),
RAM:    256MB to 512GB,
L2:     8MB per CPU,
Disks:  Internal: 1 to 11 UltraSCSI or  1 to 10 3.5" FibreChannel devices per rack,
        External: 9 XIO slots (1.2GB/sec sustained) + 3 optional PCI slots per rack,
GFX:    1 to 16 InfiniteReality2 graphics subsystems (pipes),
        MonsterMode/DPLEX for multipipe rendering (hardware parallel use of pipes),
        2.16GFLOPS Geometry Engine per pipe (34.56GFLOPS total),
        1 to 4 Raster Managers (RMs) per pipe (max 320MB VRAM per pipe),
        80MB VRAM and 200M full-featured pixels/sec per RM,
        5120MB max VRAM (64 RMs), 64MB to 1GB max Texture RAM (TRAM)
        210 million full-featured polygons/sec (13M per pipe),
        7.2 billion smooth shaded Z-buffered pixels/sec,
        6.1 billion textured antialiased pixels/sec (8x8 antialiasing),
        138M anti-aliased vectors/sec,
        6.4 billion voxels/sec,
        6.4 billion trilinear interpolations/sec,
        48bit RGBA colour, max 2048bits per pixel, 16 overlay planes,
        2 or 8 display channels per pipe (max 128 channels),
        VGA to HDTV display capability (640x480 to 1920x1200),
        Higher resolutions by combining display channels (eg. 6400x1024),
        VR support from VGA to HDTV 48bit RGBA stereo 60fps each eye,
        Hardware-support for guaranteed frame rates (60fps),
        Dynamic Resolution Rendering ('Dynamic Video Resizing'),
Config: 16 racks connected together (the picture above only shows 3):
        8 racks all-graphics, 8 racks all-CPU
        Each graphics rack contains two modules: 1 IR2 pipe and four 64MB TRAM
        RMs per module. Each CPU rack contains two modules: 8 processors
        and 16GB RAM per module.
HDW:    73" x 40" x 28" per rack (16 racks total plus router rack),
Cost:   Probably around $15M for a max system, though around 60% of the total
        system cost is memory.

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Ian's SGI Depot: FOR SALE! SGI Systems, Parts, Spares and Upgrades

(check my current auctions!)
[Future Technology Research Index] [SGI Tech/Advice Index] [Nintendo64 Tech Info Index]