back to article OMG: HPE gobbles SGI for HPC. WTF?

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has bought venerable computing firm SGI – formerly Silicon Graphics – for $275m. Over the past few years, SGI has concentrated on the big-iron end of the server market and high-performance computing. It's this technology that HPE wants to bolster its hardware lineup. "At HPE, we are focused on …

  1. John Geek

    this should be fun. modern SGI x86 systems are heavily supermicro based.

    1. ToddR

      SGI use Supermicro.

      I don't think so. The 1U and 2U stuff was designed and built by Rackable, with rear air cooling of 2 x back - back systems.

      The shared memory kit is designed and built by SGI in Chippawa Falls I believe. They use there own motherboards in order to add their proprietary Numalink interface which provides the ccNUMA capability.

      1. Archaon

        At the very least SGI Rackable Systems use Supermicro chassis and almost certainly the corresponding motherboards. I would not be at all surprised if the larger systems also utilise Supermicro tin, but with home-grown SGI/Rackable whizz-bangery added into the mix.

        1. ToddR

          The NUMA stuff is a custom dual socket server using E7 CPUs, which no one else puts into a dual socket. They do so because Intel says they have to.

          1. zooooooom

            Are you sure its not because they need the three hypertransport links to make the architecture work?

  2. smartypants

    It was games wot done for it

    SGI lost its foothold when bog-standard PCs with graphics cards developed primarily for gaming started to dramatically outperform their offerings, destroying what up to then was a lucrative business selling desktop workstations to the creative industries.

    I developed on a variety of SGI machinery throughout the 1990s, beginning with the "affordable" Personal Iris (about £25k), but at least it came with a flight simulator!

    They were generally great to use, but by the end of the decade, the desktop machines started to seriously lag in terms of outright power, let alone price, and the company entered the first of its bankruptcies.

    The world seems a very different place today.

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: It was games wot done for it

      The story paints this as the sad end of a long-established graphics pioneer. In truth that already happened seven years ago when the original company went bankrupt and Rackable Systems bought them out.

      That's mentioned in passing, but it's not made entirely clear that the present day "SGI" (i.e. the one now being taken over by HPE) *is* essentially Rackable- which renamed itself after the company it had just bought- and not the original.

      1. John Geek

        Re: It was games wot done for it

        exactly. hpe bought rackable. I deployed a couple dozen of their 3500 storage servers (the 36 drive 3.5" 4U servers), which were thinnly rebranded supermicro kit.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: John Geek Re: It was games wot done for it

          ".....hpe bought rackable...." So, do Rackable have some killer product in development or just some tasty patents?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The New 'Innovate' HPE way

    will be to lay off 99% of the workers who have not thrown in the towel within 3 months of the deal closing.

    Sad day. Sad for SGI and sad to see HPE floundering about like this.

    The people who work there deserve better.

    Posting AC as I have family who are unlucky enough to work for HPE (until the end of the month when they get let go).

    1. ToddR

      Re: The New 'Innovate' HPE way

      Yup, HP have been sh**e at HPC for a long while and will probably bin the SGI folk, who do understand HPC, (that's not running QM in a bank), such as CFD, finite element analysis and plasma physics codes.

      HPEs a joke and a slow dying dinosaur.

  4. m0rt

    Hewlett Packard

    Where once proud companies go to die...

    1. redneck

      Re: Hewlett Packard

      I always thought it was "where once proud operating systems go to die."

      <- Apollo

      <- Convex

      -> Agilent

      <- Compaq

      <- EDS

      <- 3com

      <- Palm

      <- Autonomy

      -> HP Inc

      <- Aruba

      <- SGI

      1. John Geek

        Re: Hewlett Packard

        um, the arrow goes the wrong way on Compaq. the current HP is really Compaq more than it ever was Hewlett Packard.

  5. mrjohn

    the purple ones were faster

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Operated by Barny?

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    And so the old stalwarts all die out - to be replaced by the young and foolish...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Stealthy Imperial State Actors are Novel ESPecial Agents ‽ .

      And so the old stalwarts all die out - to be replaced by the young and foolish...

      Ignore and try to deny there be also the brave and the brash at their work, REST and Greater IntelAIgent Gamesplay at your peril, Anonymous South African Coward.

  7. roselan


    standardized title is best title. Amateurs.

    1. spiny norman


      I do get your thinking, but technically it should be "BUYS" as HPE is a single entity and "gobbles", with the punctuation, is more eye-catching. Anyway, for "three-letter mergasm" I'd forgive them anything. Though, shouldn't it be mergegasm?

      1. dajames Silver badge


        I do get your thinking, but technically it should be "BUYS" as HPE is a single entity ...

        That would be the US usage, yes. In British English it is acceptable to regard a compound entity grammatically as either a single whole or as the sum of its parts, so "BUY" works fine over here.

  8. hoola Silver badge

    Why is it so bad?

    HP simply outclass everyone in the midrange HPC field. Much if this is down to the blade systems and more recently the Apollo kit. If HP is so bad at HPC, why do people keep buying it? It is not necessarily price because competitors can be cheaper but the solutions and support mediocre. This purchase actually makes a lot of sense as it enables them to push the low volume very high performance solutions that SGI do but failed to make any money on. It is no longer possible to be a high-end niche vendor as the development costs outweigh the revenue. If much of this ends up in The Machine then things could get even more interesting.

  9. Numen

    More history

    Don't forget the merge/demerge with Cray that started their high-end computing.

  10. PickledAardvark

    I could swear...

    ...that those are Macintosh Quadras in the photograph. The menu bar at the top of the screen suggests that they are running an Apple operating system with an X Windows emulator.

    1. smartypants

      Re: I could swear...

      That's from Jurassic Park.

      On the right of the monitor is an SGI workstation - more are visible too. This link provides the details:

      ILM (who did the effects) used SGIs extensively, using software like this:

      1. ToddR

        Re: I could swear...

        But all of the rendering was done on Sun Sparc servers, as no rendering tools were ported to MIPs or Itanium. Good market placement though.

  11. Alistair

    This will make for interesting meetings

    At least, for a couple of the folks I know in the hardware sales biz. Friendly competitors they are at the moment, will now be in the same house.

    I recall supporting two of the toasters. Surprisingly robust little boxes. Waaaaay too old to be left unattended. It took several months of 'help its broken' calls and lectures of the manager types before they went back to the software vendor and found out that the latest iterations now ran on linux.

    The clustering software and OpenGL stuff, and I believe that SGI also gets some credit for a file system or two.... *sigh*

  12. Dave K Silver badge

    How the mighty have fallen

    It is a sad day to see how much SGI have fallen - even if the current SGI is just Rackable with a new name. The real SGI died back in 2009. I still have 3 old SGI workstations at home for occasional pratting around on (an O2, Indigo2 and a Fuel), and for the mid 90s, their kit was legendary for what it could do, and how it looked. It was sad to see just how quickly they imploded once PCs began to eat into their core market.

    Of course, the number of management mis-steppings were also huge. The early announcement to shift to Itanium (combined with cancelling future MIPS development) way before Itanium was even remotely ready to ship (and when nobody had any idea how it'd perform), and of course the even more disastrous decision to settle with NVidia and give NVidia free access to all SGI's graphics patents. All decisions which just accelerated their decline.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is an enterprise play

    Specifically SAP HANA, locking all other vendors out of the high end market.

    HP/Dell/Cisco all resold SGI for the 16TB+ DBs.

    They are now locked out.

    This means only Bull can compete in the x86 market up to 16GB with

    IBM stuck with Power upto 16GB.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is an enterprise play

      How about Fujitsu, don't they have decent high end x86/x64 based systems?

      The PRIMERGY ones come to mind, though it's been a few years since I worked with them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is an enterprise play

        Max 8 Sockets, they used to do a 12 Socket box but didn't sell any.

        PS. The Cisco C880 is actually a rebranded Primergy

  14. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    Does SGI come with any interesting patents (NUMA, graphics, etc.)?

    1. zooooooom

      Re: Patents?

      SGI's original NUMA directory stuff dates from the mid 90s - though they've continued to file patent apps on the subject as recently as 2013, its not clear whether they are just fluff or not.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EDS or Autonomy?

    Time will tell if this is simply a poor decision (EDS) or an outright suicide (Autonomy). HP[E] has a justly deserved reputation for spending way too much and getting much less then they thought. #deathspiral

  16. Daniel von Asmuth

    Bye, Bye, pretty SGI

    Will HP-UX, Open VMS and Tandem Non-Stop be ported to MIPS processors next?

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      Re: Bye, Bye, pretty SGI

      Nope, since SGI got rid of MIPS long ago, and tried to move to the Itanium. What a disaster. So now the company that did the least bad with the Itanium (and consists of two companies that threw away good CPU designs to move to the Itanium) is buying one of the others that was essentially destroyed by moving to the Itanium.

  17. P. Lee Silver badge

    Ah the memories

    I used the SG Iris machines during my exchange year to Texas A&M. Oh the horror when I came back to London and found the entire computer lab was filled with 256 shades of grey (well, green) PCs.

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