SGI enters Windows NT domain with release of low-cost workstations

February 1, 1999

SGI enters Windows NT domain with release of low-cost workstationsFirm believes healthcar users will benefit from new product lineThe growing adoption of the Windows NT operating system has forced manufacturers of powerful but high-priced

SGI enters Windows NT domain with release of low-cost workstations

Firm believes healthcar users will benefit from new product line

The growing adoption of the Windows NT operating system has forced manufacturers of powerful but high-priced Unix workstations to consider strategic moves to counteract the increasing popularity of the Microsoft platform. One such company, Sun Microsystems, introduced its Darwin family of low-cost Unix-based workstations and its StorEdge family of storage offerings last year (PNN 2/98 and PNN 3/98).

Silicon Graphics has chosen a different route to improve its competitive position. The Mountain View, CA-based firm has introduced a line of low-cost, visual workstations based on Windows NT. In the future, SGI will be offering workstations based on both NT and Unix-based operating systems, according to the firm.

SGI believes medical imaging users could benefit from the workstations which carry the product names 320 and 540. The 320 workstation can be configured with up to two Intel Pentium II 450-MHz processors and up to 1 GB of ECC SDRAM memory, according to SGI. It also features three available PCI expansion slots, two available storage bays, integrated floppy drive, 32x max CD-ROM, and a choice of hard drives up to 14.4 GB Ultra ATA/3, according to the company.

The 540, on the other hand, can be configured with up to four Intel Pentium II Xeon 450-MHz processors with 512 KB, 1 MB, or 2 MB of L2 cache and up to 2 GB of ECC SDRAM memory. It is also equipped with six available PCI expansion slots, three available storage bays, an integrated floppy drive, 32x max CD-ROM, and a 9-GB 7200 RPM Ultra2 SCSI disk drive.

Shipments of the 320 workstation will begin this month, while deliveries of the 540 visual workstation are planned in the second quarter. The price of the 320 will start at $3395, while the 540 will start at $5995.

PACS users would likely be interested primarily in the 320, while physicians investigating sophisticated applications, such as computer-aided surgery, would probably require the added power of the 540, said Petra van den Elsen, medical industry marketing manager. In any event, SGI believes that both workstations will prove useful in medical imaging applications.

"It's a system with excellent graphics and extremely high bandwidth, and medical imaging is an area where you have huge amounts of data and 3-D is very important," she said.

Another interesting potential benefit of the workstations is their ability to employ the firm's 1600SW flat-panel liquid crystal display, which was previewed at the 1998 RSNA meeting. Featuring an all-digital architecture, the 17.3-inch display offers a 1600 x 1024-pixel resolution with resolution of 110 dpi. The display is available at a price of $2595.

The company declined to comment on whether any PACS or medical imaging vendors have signed on to deploy the 320 or 540.