SGI 320 Visual Workstation
The Silicon Graphics 320 visual workstation is a dual-processor system with a 1GB memory cap. SGI is aiming this system at many markets, including mechanical CAD (MCAD), CAD/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), digital content creation, architectural engineering, and desktop publishing. The version I tested came with one 500MHz Pentium III CPU; 256MB of Error-Correcting Code Synchronous DRAM (ECC SDRAM); and integrated sound, graphics, and network interface. SGI supplied a 1600SW 17.3" digital LCD flat panel display monitor and a 9.1GB SCSI disk with a 64-bit PCI Ultra 2 SCSI interface.
The three-chip Cobalt chipset, the heart of SGI's Integrated Visual Computing (IVC) architecture, manages the workstation's I/O subsystems, which include S-video, composite video, CD-ROM quality audio, and Universal Serial Bus (USB) and IEEE-1394 interfaces at the back panel. The workstation also features two 64-bit PCI buses for faster I/O bandwidth with low-to-no bus contention. By integrating the graphics and video functions within the Cobalt chipset—rather than squeezing the functions through interface cards plugged into PCI slots—SGI created a high-speed connection between the chipset's graphics and memory controller and main memory. According to SGI, this path provides a peak bandwidth of 3.2GB per second, which is higher than Intel's Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) 2X path, and even exceeds the newer AGP 4X standard.
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