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SGI VW540 @ TC Labs

Scritto da simon.
Venerdì 11 Marzo 2011, 1:08 pm.


SGI 540 On january 11 1999, Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) announced a new line of "desktop workstations for visual computing" which could take advantage of the power and flexibility of Microsoft Windows NT.
These workstations, the Silicon Graphics 320 and the Silicon Graphics 540, were custom-designed for high end "visual computing" applications such as video production, 3D medical imaging, Computer Aided Design (CAD), film and television special effects, and topography mapping. They were the first SGI machines hosting Intel Pentium III Xeon CPUs and executind an operating system different from IRIX.
A 540 visual workstation arrived some days ago at TC Labs, enriching our SGI TC Project collection. Now we have an Octane, an O2, a Fuel and of course the new VW540 beast. The system comes from Germany and, although in good conditions, has not any OS installed. This is the running commentary of how I tried to revive it from the ashes.

The out-of-the-box experience of this used 540 Visual Workstation is aesthetically amazing: even if there are no power cables, no keyboard and mouse and unfortunately no recovery CDs, gazing at that grey and blue tower is still breathtaking. SGI designers were able to make a deskside ATX tower ('cause it's not desktop as the 320) incredibly stilish.

SGI 540 is HUGE!
Let's mess up a little with SCSI disk partitioning (WinNT/2000 needs a FAT little partition on a visual workstation to store boot files) and we are ready to go with Windows 2000 installation (1) from the PROM screen. Even though I installed plenty of Win machine, VW540 is a bit hard to tame, since I had to repeat partitioning procedure a couple of times before succeeding: following this scheme from SGI still on-line technical manuals made the trick!

It's quite obvious that looking at a Win logo coming out from a SGI box sends shivers down my spine, but these machines were made for this, so let's take a look under the hood to see if the hardware can dignify the software!

Ok, SGIVW540 is now regularly connected to TC.Net lan and I can install system patches I downloaded last days from my still existing Silicon Graphics Supportfolio account (2). But before doing so, Win2k Service Pack 4 has to be up and running.

SGI 540 Desktop
Even there's a warning in the Windows 2k hardware list, Cobalt graphics works good, after device driver proper setup. It's now time for good piece of 3D software such as Maya, Photoshop and so on, of course in their vintage release...

SUNDAY UPDATE: Never, and I repeat _NEVER_, think about moving strange memory modules from their slots, it would be _NO GOOD_ !

(1) - Regular Campus licence from my University lab.
(2) - I registered myself back in the old days, in 2005, when SGI was not Rackable...


Un commento


Hi Simon?

This is a long shot but I was wondering if you have a copy of the SGI drivers required to do a fresh software install of windows 2000.

MojaMonkey - 04-06-’18 11:44

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Dal 2004 questo piccolo angolo di rete raccoglie gli interessi di ricerca e i lavori di sperimentazione digitale di Simone Garagnani in materia di cultura geek, ma soprattutto di Building Information Modeling, rilievi digitali ad alta risoluzione e computer graphics legata al mondo dell'architettura, dell'ingegneria e delle costruzioni. TC Project, è presente anche sul social network Facebook.


Welcome to these pages that host since 2004 Simone Garagnani's personal blog, a collection of nerd notes and geek experiences focused sometimes on Building Information Modeling, terrestrial laser scanning, digital photogrammetry and computer graphics applied to the AEC world. The TC Project is also available on Facebook.

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