Computer, graphics production, Silicon Graphics Onyx 1, metal / plastic / electronic components, made by Silicon Graphics Inc, Sunnyvale, California, United States of America, 1994
The Onyx-1 is a 1.5m high by 0.75m wide rack cabinet of electronics containing numerous circuit boards, a power supply and cooling system. It has a decorative front surface, grey side panels and a rear panel with numerous data and video signal connectors.
It is a specialised graphics workstation that uses the 'geometry engine' very-large scale integrated circuit (VLSI) developed by James Clark, the founder of SGI. The Geometry engine does the mathematically intensive tasks necessary for the generation of 2-D and 3-D images in a computer graphics system. These tasks are the matrix manipulations required for moving, rotating and doing perspective transformations of an object, clipping the object to fit the frame of the viewing 'window' and the scaling of the relative size of the object so that it fits the requirements of the particular type of output system utilised, e.g. film or videotape. It thus takes the load off the CPU for mathematically intensive commands. The version of the geometry engine used in this machine was known as a Reality Engine.
The processing section is a parallel multi-processor computer, capable of accommodating up to 24 processors. The processor used was the MIPS R4400, a 150MHz clock, pipelined instruction processing, 64-bit data path chip released in 1993. The basic configuration of the machine consisted in a 4 processor board with slots for an extra 5 boards. It could utilise up to 16-gigabytes of memory and included a 2-GB hard disk drive. The operating system was IRIX, a variation of Unix specially developed by SGI to maximise the functionality of their geometry engine graphics processor.
Silicon Graphics, Computer Systems, Onyx