NM Business Weekly - August 1997
Abba Technologies Targets New Markets with Silicon Graphics O2 Workstations
by Sheldon Liebman
Since the introduction of their first workstations over 10 years ago, Silicon Graphics has represented the state of the art in high end, advanced workstations for 3D computer graphics. During this time, the company has successfully marketed to the most demanding users of scientific visualization, 3D animation, special effects and video systems.
Over the past few years, however, the power of PC and Mac systems has grown significantly while the cost of these systems has decreased. As a result, many software packages that were previously available only for SGI workstations have been modified to run on PC and Mac machines. Although these programs don't run as quickly on these mainstream machines as on the SGI workstations, many users began to purchase traditional computers to replace or supplement SGI products.
A few months ago, SGI responded by introducing a powerful, affordable new workstation called the O2. Aimed squarely at the much larger PC and Mac graphics markets, the O2 is designed to offer many of the advantages of larger, more expensive SGI workstations with a price that is competitive to high end personal computers. In Albuquerque, this workstation and other Silicon Graphics products are available from Abba Technologies.
SGI is currently running an advertising campaign in computer and video trade journals that specifies a very usable configuration of the O2 for under $7500. Although they have tried to approach this price level before, those earlier attempts were for diskless workstations with very little memory. In contrast, this new configuration includes a fast processor (180 MHz MIPS R5000), reasonable hard disk (2 GigaBytes), lots of memory (64 MegaBytes of RAM), fast networking (100BaseTx Ethernet) and a 17" high resolution monitor. The system also includes hardware for image processing, video compression and real-time texture mapping, which is used to apply textures or video to three-dimensional objects.
The O2 includes SGI's IRIX operating system (which is based on UNIX) and SoftWindows 95, which can be used to run standard Microsoft Windows 95 compatible programs. The system also includes software to connect the O2 with PCs and Macs as well as a wide variety of utility programs. To provide even more powerful features, there are a number of software bundles available targeting graphic arts, video and Internet users. Even with one of the bundles added, an O2 system can be purchased for under $10,000.
At this price point, Silicon Graphics hopes the O2 will appeal to graphic artists and designers who currently use Macintosh systems, not just the world's largest advertising agencies. They want to attract small video production and animation companies who have mostly used PC based systems, not just the larger companies that directly service the Entertainment industry. SGI is also targeting all types of engineers, not just those solving very complex simulation and visualization problems.
This week, all of New Mexico will have a chance to see just what the O2 is capable of achieving. Although SGI has a regional office in Albuquerque, much of their activity revolves around supporting Abba Technologies, a three-year-old systems integrator providing software and hardware for networking, digital media and related applications. Together, they already service a large installed base at Kirtland AFB, Sandia Labs and Los Alamos Labs. Now, they are ready to bring Silicon Graphics products to a much wider audience.
To meet this goal, they have scheduled a free seminar for this Wednesday, August 20, 1997. The seminar, titled "From Start...To Finish, Creative Solutions in Design and Visualization," runs from 1 PM - 5 PM and will be held at Technology Ventures Corporation. At this event, representatives from Silicon Graphics plus a number of other hardware and software providers will be demonstrating the broad base of applications for which the O2 can be used.
The seminar will also feature Brad Carvey of Autumn Light Entertainment as the keynote speaker. Autumn Light, based in Albuquerque, provided the 2 1/2 minute animated segment that opens "Men in Black," this summer's biggest movie. Carvey will discuss how local businesses can attract customers all over the world through their talent and tools rather than their location.
If you would like to attend this seminar, please contact Jacquie Boas of Abba Technologies at 505-889-3337 extension 24. Space and access are limited, so be sure to call early if you would like to attend.
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2403 San Mateo Boulevard NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
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