Silicon Graphics primed for 3-D mass market

April 24, 1991

Physicians may be rotating three-dimensional medical images ontheir desktop personal computers within the next five years. SiliconGraphics plans to be a factor in the mass 3-D market when it emerges,said John C. Metcalfe, vice president of marketing for

Physicians may be rotating three-dimensional medical images ontheir desktop personal computers within the next five years. SiliconGraphics plans to be a factor in the mass 3-D market when it emerges,said John C. Metcalfe, vice president of marketing for SiliconGraphic's Entry Systems division.

The Mountain View, CA, firm is a leading supplier of 3-D workstationtechnology for medical and other technical applications. Severalsignificant steps were taken this month to help spread its graphicstechnology:

  • It entered into a strategic and financial relationshipwith PC manufacturer Compaq Computer of Houston.

  • It signed a cooperative technology agreement with softwaredeveloper Microsoft. The agreement will allow Silicon Graphicsto integrate its Iris graphics library with Microsoft operatingand applications software.

  • It was one of 21 computer vendors to endorse the advancedcomputing environment (ACE) initiative. This supports the useof Unix operating software on reduced instruction set computing(RISC) microprocessor technology developed by MIPS Computer Systems.

"We were the first workstation company to use the MIPSRISC processor. The ACE standard virtually describes a low-endSilicon Graphics workstation. It endorses our view of what a workstationshould be," Metcalfe told SCAN.

Under the ACE initiative, when a software developer writesan application for one of the computer suppliers in the consortium,the program will run on any of the others, he said. ACE will bein competition with proprietary RISC systems offered by Sun Microsystemsand IBM.

All three agreements should ensure that Silicon Graphics hardwareand processing technology is available to a wide audience andis compatible with generally available computer applications,Metcalfe said.

"The PC of 1995 will handle 3-D images in the same waycurrent PCs handle color. That is going to have a fundamentaleffect on how people in the medical industry will use (computer)products," he said.

While no specific product plans were included in the Compaqagreement, the two firms will share technology in their productdevelopment programs. Compaq will also purchase 13% of SiliconGraphics' equity for $135 million and provide the graphics firmwith $50 million for R&D.