By: Matthew Armstrong
Issue: Animation - Jul 21, 2003


MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - At SIGGRAPH later this month, SGI ( will unveil its new Tezro desktop quad-processor workstation, which is designed specifically for high-end compositing, editing and film mastering, and features better performance than its Octane 2 workstation at a significantly lower cost.

"We basically took the same architecture from the Origin and Onyx 3000 family and drove that down to a small chassis that can fit on the desktop," says Jason Danielson, SGI's media industry director. "This is something we've been planning since the Onyx and Origin 3000 came out 18 months ago."

Tezro comes with one, two or four processors and comes in a desktop or a rack-mount unit, handles 10-bit HD video quality with its DMediaPro card and has the same graphics driver (Vpro graphics) as the Octane 2. With general availability in August, a single processor Tezro will cost around $25,000, a two-processor system will cost around $35,000 and a four-processor workstation will be priced at approximately $50,000.

"Our [beta testers/developers] are telling us that a two-processor Tezro is much, much faster than an Octane 2 - and is about half the price," notes Danielson. "Tezro with four processors is really designed to have multiple applications running at the same time, whether it's something like [Discreet] Flame and Combustion or you're running one application while rendering in the background. A lot of systems can go to four processors but you don't get that much more from four than you do from two, so everyone buys the two-processors workstations. With Tezro, a four-processor station is twice as fast as a two-processor workstation."

In addition to Tezro, SGI has two other systems designed for the film market that have just begun shipping: the Onyx 350 with InfiniteReality graphics and the Onyx 350 with InfinitePerformance graphics. "The Onyx 3000 was designed for high-end, high-performance computing for markets like energy and sciences, not really for Discreet Inferno," relates Danielson. "Post houses felt the 3000 was too big, too expensive and added a lot of overhead. The 350 takes it down a notch. We used the same modular brick system that we have for the 3000 line and configured it to work great for the Discreet systems.

"[The] InfiniteReality graphics system is designed, essentially, to drive Inferno, with the same high-end compositing and film mastering, 32 film resolution layers and 10-bit anti-aliased graphics that they were used to with the 3000, but at a lower price point," he continues. "The purchase price is about half the cost of an Onyx 2, costs less to service and runs faster than an Onyx 2."

The Onyx 350 with the InfinitePerformance graphics system is designed for digital intermediates and film mastering. "We built this specifically for customers like da Vinci and Thomson, that are doing digital intermediates but who don't need high-performance graphics," says Danielson. "They needed a high-quality playback system to deal with the throughput of many terabytes of film data, a raster rate enough to drive the high resolution digital projectors, but they didn't need to do 32 layers of compositing.