Silicon Graphics Inc, a company that built its reputation on UNIX-based systems used to create visual effects for countless films, has unveiled new workstations based on Intel processors and the Windows NT operating system. Dictated by a changing marketplace, the new systems will appeal to a wide group of users who need the computing power but not the prohibitive prices. However, SGI believes that these systems will not replace the high-end UNIX workstations but will rather complement them. Rick Belluzzo, chairman and CEO of Silicon Graphics explains, With the introduction of these powerful new visual workstations, professional high-end graphics and media are now accessible to a much broader customer base at incredibly affordable prices. The systems were introduced Monday at a grand unveiling in San Jose: the Silicon Graphics 320, which will ship in February, starts at a base price of $3,395, and the Silicon Graphics 540 is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 1999 at an entry price of $5,995. Both systems were designed from the ground up to deliver excellent 2D and 3D performance.
Subsequently, many software developers including NewTek, Kinetix, Softimage, Alias/Wavefront, and Cambridge Animation Systems have already partnered with SGI to optimize their software and take advantage of the machines high performance and 100% Windows NT compatibility. Likewise, there are a number of interoperability solutions allowing the machines to work seamlessly between UNIX, Windows NT and Macintosh platforms. Brian Tyler, Director of Marketing for Cambridge Animation Systems commented, Flexibility, creativity and ease-of-use are the principles underlying Cambridge Animation Systems software solutions. While the Silicon Graphics visual workstations integrated video/audio and graphics capabilities provide artists and producers with a working environment which complements this philosophy, the new Animo 2D/3D products are taking full advantage of its hardware accelerated OpenGL to speed up powerful real-time effects. Thus far, the new machines have garnered much positive response and interest, and hold the potential to reverse SGIs downward slide in recent years.