SGI has fleshed out its plans for Linux by announcing it will offer a range of Linux servers at the end of September.
Jim Irving, SGI's UK workstations director, said that SGI plans "a family of high-performance and very resilient Linux systems (that) will be Intel-based servers aimed at the volume market, designed to compete at the core of the Dell/Compaq marketplace."
SGI (formerly Silicon Graphics) told PC Week in February of plans to offer Linux as a third operating system alongside Irix and NT.
The company said it planned a long-term commitment to Linux on Intel architecture through its cooperation with VA Research on a Merced port of Linux (see PC Week, 9 March).
"Anything we do with NT, we will do with Linux," Irving said. "The operating systems will be factory installed, and the hardware will be the same price, so the differentiator will be the licence fee."
This would give the new Linux boxes a price tag of about $2,759 (£1,780), though SGI declined to give exact pricing.
The feature set for the Linux boxes has been set and will include software that SGI has already contributed to Linux, Irving said, such as improvements to the TCP/IP stack, patches to prevent denial of service and upgrades to the network file system.
SGI has also released its XFS 64-bit, journalled file system for Linux, designed to improve Linux's enterprise capabilities. Irving said XFS would be included in the next major Linux kernel release.
SGI has also been working with the Linux kernel team to add support for its OpenGL graphics libraries to the OS, Irving said.
Irving predicted that Linux would end up dominating the volume market.
"In Silicon Valley, every second advertising hoarding is for Linux. Irix will be protected because it doesn't play in the volume market," he said.
"But the percentage share of proprietary Unix will be severely impacted within five years. There will come a point where the expense of staying in the niche market outweighs the benefit of maintaining that niche, and at that point we'll make a business decision."
Irving hinted that the "business decision" could include open-sourcing Irix. He also said SGI could merge Irix into its high-end Cray OS, Unicos.
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