IRIS On Line Vol 01 Issue 02

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Silicon Graphics (just-about-named) Electronic Magazine Vol 1 Issue 2 July, 1993

IRIS On-Line Logo
IRIS On-Line Subheading

Name The E-Magazine Contest Update

WOW, what a response ! We received several thousand imaginative entries in our "Name the emag" contest, including several hundred on the last day. As a result it's taken us a while to go through them all. But rest assured we will go through each and every entry. The winning name (winner of the Indigo system!) will be published in a special edition in two weeks. So stay tuned ...


Press Releases From Silicon Graphics

Silicon Graphics Announces Shipment Of New RAID Product

On June 22 Silicon Graphics announced initial shipments of its new SCSI-2 FAST WIDE RAID array for the CHALLENGE and ONYX line of supercomputers and graphics supercomputers.

The new product, called "SCSI RAID", allows RAID 3 and 5 configurations in 8GB building blocks. Each 8GB block can reach sustained speeds of >15MB/sec in RAID 3 mode. Using a SCSI approach for RAID allows scaleability of up to 3 TB capacity and >300 MB/sec performance PER SYSTEM.

Unique features of Silicon Graphics' SCSI RAID include Predictive Failure Analysis - giving system administrators a warning of a bad disk up to 24 hours BEFORE the disk fails. The allows planned replacement of drives in non-peak hours.

For further information contact your nearest Silicon Graphics sales representative or email


Silicon Graphics' CEO Testifies On The Effect Of Securities Class-Action Lawsuits On U.S. Companies

(June 17, 1993) In an address before the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Edward R. McCracken, president and chief executive officer of Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE:SGI) testified on the effect of securities class-action lawsuits on American businesses. These lawsuits, usually filed under Rule 10b-5 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, allege that companies consciously withhold facts or provide misleading information, leading investors to pay an artificially high price for their stock. McCracken's testimony argues that current legal practice creates an uncontrolled "tax on innovation." His statement was part of a Congressional Subcommittee hearing on private litigation under the federal securities law.

McCracken told members of the Subcommittee, "Even when companies like Silicon Graphics are successful, there is a threat of a securities class- action lawsuit. Because stock price volatility goes hand-in-hand with risk taking, innovative companies become targets of these abusive suits. The current system exposes companies to potential litigation whenever their stock price falls by more than a few percent, even if there was absolutely no violation of securities laws or fiduciary responsibility."

McCracken used Silicon Graphics as one example of a successful business that has been adversely affected by unmerited litigation. On April 3, 1991, the company disclosed that the Persian Gulf War had caused a disruption in customers' purchasing decisions and that revenues for the quarter, which ended three days prior, would be lower than Wall Street expectations. After the announcement - which was made two weeks earlier than usual in order to immediately inform the market of the unexpected downturn - the company's stock price fell approximately 10 percent. Despite the caution the company exercised, Silicon Graphics was sued for securities fraud. The case was finally dismissed after two years and over $500,000 in attorneys' fees - time and money better spent fueling growth.

"There is something wrong with a system that penalizes a company simply because one quarter's results were lower than financial analysts' expectations," McCracken continued. "The securities laws were intended to deter fraud, not growth and innovation.

"Small, innovative companies like Silicon Graphics are engines of growth precisely because they take risks and run with ideas that other, more bureaucratic corporations have rejected," McCracken added. "The nation is counting on businesses like ours to fuel its economic resurgence. It is our responsibility to ensure that this entrepreneurial spirit is rewarded-not discouraged because of the risks and expenses associated with frivolous lawsuits."

McCracken concluded, "Once one of these suits is put in motion, it is impossible to terminate it without some cost to the innocent company. We need to eliminate the incentives to file these exploitive cases from the current system."

A complete copy of McCracken's testimony is available by calling Silicon Graphics.


Silicon Graphics Makes On-Screen Hollywood Debut In "Jurassic Park"

On June 9, Silicon Graphics, Inc. announced that director Steven Spielberg's film "Jurassic Park" marks the first time 3D graphics computers are an integral part of a major motion picture. Released June 11, 1993, "Jurassic Park" is based on Michael Crichton's best selling novel about dinosaurs that are genetically recreated for the ultimate theme park. Both on-screen and behind the scenes, Silicon Graphics' computer systems are used extensively to add scientific realism to the film.

Silicon Graphics workstations are a critical element of Jurassic Park's computer control room, the "eyes and ears" of the technologically advanced theme park. Traditionally, computer graphics have been used in films only as pre-recorded video on computer monitors. In "Jurassic Park" the control room is a live, working computing environment featuring real applications that visually enhance the story line. Computer systems are used in the film for everything from monitoring security systems and activity around the island to visualizing DNA in the laboratory.

"Because Silicon Graphics workstations are used by scientists and engineers to visualize and interpret complex data, existing software applications were easily modified for use in the film," said Harry Pforzheimer, director of corporate communications at Silicon Graphics. "Programs like EarthWatch Communications' EarthWatch(tm), which interprets weather data, and a 3D information navigator from Silicon Graphics, which lets users graphically fly through computer file system representations, provided perfect solutions to enhance the story line." Silicon Graphics provided 3D graphics workstations with a value of nearly one million dollars to Amblin Entertainment, and technical assistance over a four-month period. These systems included four Indigo(tm) RISC PCs, seven Indigo Elan(tm) workstations, two IRIS(r) 4D/440 VGXT graphics workstations and four IRIS Crimson(tm) workstations. Silicon Graphics technical support provided immediate solutions for typical challenges that occur with filming computer graphics displays, such as frame rate synchronization and color correction.

"In addition to creating this realistic environment in the computer control room, the Silicon Graphics systems are integral to the plot, enabling graphic interpretation of information rather than forced dialogue," said Michael Backes, Display Graphics Supervisor on "Jurassic Park" and Co-chair of the American Film Institute Computer Center. "Silicon Graphics' extensive support enabled the control room scenes to be completed three days ahead of schedule and well under budget."

In addition to using systems on-screen, Industrial Light & Magic created Jurassic Park's full motion dinosaurs on Silicon Graphics workstations. ILM and Silicon Graphics have been working together since 1987 and recently announced JEDI, the largest and most advanced production environment for digital imagery creation in the entertainment industry. More than 70 Silicon Graphics workstations are being used for computer graphics at the ILM facility, ranging from the desktop IRIS Indigo family to the Onyx(tm) graphics supercomputer, which provides the world's fastest computer graphics.


MIPS Technologies To Provide Multimedia Engine For Interactive Digital Cable TV

MIPS is Key to First Installation by Time Warner and Silicon Graphics

On June 7, MIPS Technologies, Inc. announced that it would provide the multimedia architecture powering the Full Service interactive digital cable television network being developed by Time Warner Cable and Silicon Graphics, Inc. also announced today. The first system installation, expected to set the standard for delivering interactive digital cable television to the home, will be in Orlando, Florida, by the end of 1993. The MIPS(r) multimedia architecture incorporates high- performance real-time processing with video, audio, graphics and compression technologies.

The new cable television system is comprised of high-performance digital video servers from Silicon Graphics and inexpensive yet powerful digital media set-top devices. Both the servers and set-top devices are powered by MIPS processors to meet the demands of digital media computing. Rather than simply a controller for numerous cable channels, the set-top device will offer capabilities to enable interactive information services, video-on-demand, educational resources, interactive video games and home shopping.

"MIPS Technologies provides the multimedia engine to make interactive digital cable a reality by taking the existing MIPS RISC microprocessor technology and adding critical primitives for digital media computing," said Edward R. McCracken, president and chief executive officer of Silicon Graphics, Inc. "The MIPS architecture has proven itself in desktop and supercomputing, and it is now ready to meet the demands of interactive digital cable television. True digital media computing requires tremendous compute power for integration of graphics, images and sound."

The set-top device operates in real-time on multiple concurrent streams of audio and video data. It decompresses the compressed cable signal and converts it from a digital form to an analog one for display on a conventional television or recording on a VCR. The set-top device also provides an on-screen interface for users to select a program or service. It will provide high quality graphics and CD-quality sound. While the set-top device has many powerful features, it is designed with the ease-of-use of a home television.

- end -

Third Party Press Releases

Indigo Based System Analyzes Flight Of Baseball For TV

On June 16, SZL SportSight Inc. announced that it has installed a Supervision system -- based on the Silicon Graphics Inc. Indigo Elan workstation -- for use in the broadcast of Colorado Rockies home games on KWGN in Denver. Supervision is a graphics display system that tracks the flight of a baseball and displays it on a workstation screen. The technology renders a three-dimensional view of the ball's path, speed and trajectory from the point of the ball's release until it crosses the plate.

Supervision aired on Monday night, during the broadcast of the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The graphic enhancement is used by game announcers to review and analyze certain key plays, pitches and personnel during the course of the game. It will be featured again on June 18 for the broadcast of a game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres and for the Rockies' Fourth of July home stand. "The installation of Supervision at Mile High Stadium brings the technology another step closer to becoming recognized as a standard baseball enhancement tool and ultimately as a stand-alone advertising medium," said Edward J. Plumacher, president of SZL SportSight.

The installation follows a Supervision installation with the Orlando-based Sunshine Network, serving 3.2 million subscribers, earlier this month. The network will be featuring Supervision for its remaining Florida Marlins home game broadcasts.

SZL SportSight Inc., headquartered in New York City, was founded in 1985 by an aeronautical engineer who invented and patented the Supervision technology to visualize and quantify the speed, trajectory and path of moving objects with applications for military, commercial and broadcast use.


Cool Stuff - (Free)

Building A Better Dinosaur Poster Available Via FTP

For those individuals who can not get enough news, merchandising, press releases, articles, and other shameless hype about Jurassic Park, this may be for you!

Last fall, to publicize SGI's participation in the making of Jurassic Park, both through our systems at Amblin, ILM, and Stan Winston Studios as well as the machines which appear in the movie, a few of us made a really cool poster which we plastered all over stage 28 on the Universal lot. You may have seen it in the background of the photograph of Steven Spielberg in this winter's IRIS Universe.

Now, for a limited time only, the original image we used for the poster is available for ftp from in the directory "graphics/images". This directory contains the following files:

The "Helping Build a Better Dinosaur" poster produced to highlight Silicon Graphics' participation in "Jurassic Park":

  • jp_poster.rgb.Z - 1363 x 2016 SGI format RGB image file
  • - 682 x 1008 version
  • jp_poster.tiny.rgb - 136 x 202 version
  • jp_poster.tiff.Z - 1363 x 2016 TIFF format RGB image file
  • - 682 x 1008 version
  • jp_poster.tiny.tiff - 136 x 202 version
  • + a README file containing the above file descriptions.

To get a file using anonymous FTP, use user name "anonymous" and your email address as a password:-

> ftp

Enter user name: anonymous

ftp> cd graphics/images
ftp> binary
ftp> get FILENAME
ftp> quit

These image files (except for the two tiny ones) are in compressed format. Once you have the compressed file, you must uncompress it before it is viewable:


This will make a larger file without the ".Z" which you can then display.


Technical Articles And References

MultiG Distributed Interactive Virtual Environment

Christer Carlsson | Email:
Swedish Institute of Computer Science | (or {mcvax,uunet}!sunic!sics!cc)
Box 1263 | Tel: +46 8 752 1560 (or +46 8 752 1567)
S-164 28 KISTA, SWEDEN | Fax: +46 8 751 7230

The MultiG Distributed Interactive Virtual Environment (DIVE) system v. 2.0 is now ready for public release.

  • What Is DIVE?

DIVE is a fully distributed heterogeneous VR system where users navigate in 3D space and may see, meet and interact with other users and applications in the environment.

  • Introduction To DIVE

The SICS Distributed Interactive Virtual Environment (Dive) is an experimental platform for development of televirtuality, user interfaces and applications based on shared 3D synthetic environments.

By its distributed architecture, DIVE is especially tuned to multi-user applications, where several participants may interact even though they may be geographically dispersed.

DIVE is a loosely coupled heterogeneous distributed system based on Unix and internet networking protocols within local and wide-area networks. Consistency and concurrency control of common data is achieved by active replication, reliable multicast protocols and distributed locking methods.

The simplest model of DIVE is that of a memory shared over a network with a set of processes interacting by making concurrent accesses to the memory, and sending signals to objects and other processes. Objects may have a limited `behaviour' coupled to signals, essentially a state machine, which may effect the position, material, etc. of an object.

A participant in a DIVE world is either a human user or an application process. Users navigate in 3D space and may see, meet and collaborate with other users and applications in the environment. A user is represented by a "body-icon", to facilitate the recognition and awareness of ongoing activities. Further, the body-icon may be used as a template on which the user's input devices are graphically modeled in 3D space.

A user `sees' a world through a rendering application called a visualizer. A visualizer can be set up to accommodate a wide range of I/O devices such as an HMD, wands, datagloves, etc. Further, it reads the user's input devices and maps the physical actions taken by the user to logical actions in the DIVE system. This includes navigation in 3D space, clicking on objects and grabbing objects etc.

In a typical DIVE world, a number of users leave and enter the world dynamically. Additionally, any number of non-human processes (applications) may exist within a world. Non-human processes typically control various applications, which, when started, build their user interfaces by creating and introducing necessary graphical objects. Thereafter, they `listen' to events in the world: when an events occurs, a non-human process may react according to some control logic.

At this point, a multitude of applications to DIVE has been engineered. Some address how to map traditional 2D user interfaces into the 3D realm, others concentrate on multi user aspects, such as CSCW, in a virtual environment.

  • License

The DIVE system is covered by a non commercial use licenses. The licenses are free.

  • How Do I Get DIVE?

In order to keep track of licensees, DIVE is not directly available by anonymous ftp.

To get a copy of DIVE, send an email to including your name, email adress and surface mail adress. You will then recieve instructions on how to get DIVE via ftp.

README files, ISIS (see below) and necessary gnu software is available via anonymous ftp from in pub/dive/.

  • Manual

The DIVE distribution includes a 80 page technical manual, a 24 page turorial/user manual/installation guide and man pages for several applications.

  • Bugs

Probably. Send bug reports to

  • Note

The software is a research prototype and is therefore provided on an `as is' basis with no provisions for support or future enhancements.


SGI Misc Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Overview And How To Get It

This FAQ is one of the SGI FAQ series, which consists of:

  • SGI Admin FAQ - IRIX System Administration
  • SGI Apps FAQ - Applications & Compilers
  • SGI Graphics FAQ - Graphics & Windowing
  • SGI Hardware FAQ - Hardware issues
  • SGI Misc FAQ - Introduction & Miscellaneous Information

Each FAQ is posted to each comp.sys.sgi.* group as well as the news.answers and comp.answers newsgroups (whose purpose is to store FAQs) every two weeks. If you can't find one of the FAQs with your news program, you can get it by anonymous FTP from one of these sites:


Note that is home to many other FAQs and informational documents, and is a good place to look if you can't find an answer here.

Topics covered in this FAQ:

  • -1- How can I quickly find the question I want in this FAQ?
  • -2- What are the various comp.sys.sgi.* groups?
  • -3- What are some related FAQ lists?
  • -4- What number do I call for information about SGI products?
  • -5- What is the latest release of..
  • -6- What is the most current release of IRIX for my machine?
  • -7- Is there an easy way to determine which release of IRIX I'm running?
  • -8- Can I get a list of known bugs?
  • -9- Where can I get used SGI machines?
  • -10- Where, in general, can I find software for my SGI?
  • -11- Credits

The comp.sys.sgi FAQs are the collective effort of

  • Dale Chayes
  • Steve Rikli
  • Allan Schaffer
  • Dave Schweisguth

Special thanks are due to

  • Tom Davis Author of 'zip'
  • Harry Mangalam Maintainer of the comp.sys.sgi.* WAIS database

Finally, much thanks to all of the SGI employees on Usenet, all of whom have provided gigabytes of help and information.

Credits for individual contributions are given in the answers.


July / August Pipeline: Bonus Issue - CD Included

The July/August issue of Pipeline, Silicon Graphics' technical newsletter for customers with support contracts, contains a bonus CD-ROM.

The CD-ROM features IRIS InSight Preview, a multi-media tour of the functionality of IRIS InSight, a family of online documentation, error reporting tools and electronic services. IRIS InSight Preview also offers information about how you can obtain the IRIS InSight tools around the world.

The CD-ROM also contains updates for the Indigo Magic User Environment, including IRIS Explorer (TM) 2.0, IRIS Showcase 3.0 (TM), IRIS Inventor (TM) EOE 1.0.1, and IRIS InSight (TM) 2.0 Viewer and Document Library.

Overview of IRIS InSight Preview

IRIS InSight Preview uses the IRIS InSight Viewer to provide a tour of the capabilities of the IRIS InSight product family. Using the same intuitive approach you take in locating information in printed books, the Viewer enables you to open online books, browse or locate information using advanced navigtaion tools.

IRIS InSight Preview consists of three books: Power of IRIS InSight, IRIS InSight Family Overview, and IRIS InSight Around the World.

Power of IRIS InSight, the first book on the IRIS InSight Preview "bookshelf", uses audio and movie slide shows to demonstrate three scenarios in which you can use the IRIS InSight product family to assist in:

  • Subject Research
  • Information Navigation
  • Error Message Identification

The second book on the bookshelf, IRIS InSight Family Overview, provides detailed information about each member of the IRIS InSight product family:

  • IRIS InSight Viewer
  • Document Library
  • Support Library
  • Error Reporting Tools
  • Electronic Services

This book also explains how the members of the family are bundled and offered to customers.

  • IRIS InSight Viewer and Document Library (containing end user manuals) is bundled and shipped with every Silicon Graphics system.
  • IRIS InSight subscription service is available as a purchased option. It includes the Viewer, support library and error reporting tools.
  • IRIS InSight Strategic Partner Package is available in North America only as part of Site, Varsity or IRIS Support Partner (ISP) service contracts.

(For more information about how *you* can obtain IRIS InSight, please contact your local sales or service office.)

The final book on the bookshelf, IRIS InSight Around the World, provides contacts in each country who can give you information on obtaining the IRIS InSight products.

Indigo Magic Software

Also included in the Pipeline CD are software updates for the Indigo Magic User Environment. Customers with support contracts are entitled to these new product versions, and Silicon Graphics is distributing them to our customers via the Pipeline newsletter.

About Pipeline

Pipeline is Silicon Graphics' technical newsletter that is offered to customers with support contracts.

July / August Issue (Vol. 4 Issue 4) Table Of Contents

  • Bonus CD-ROM In This Issue!
  • Overview of IRIS InSight Preview
  • New Visual Software Tools
  • Frequently-Asked Questions About Graphics
  • Frequently-Asked Questions About Monitors
  • IRIX Memory Allocation
  • Tektronix Printer Support Available
  • Hot Tip! How to Customize 4D Window Manager
  • Kernel File Analysis Using IRIX 4.0.x dbx

If you wish to find out more about obtaining a support contract for your system, please contact your local sales or service office.


Silicon Graphics, the Silicon Graphics logo and IRIS are registered trademarks, and IRIS Indigo, Indigo, Indigo Elan, IRIS 4D, IRIS Explorer, IRIS Showcase, IRIS Inventor, IRIS InSight, IRIS Crimson and Onyx are trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc.

MIPS is a registered trademark of MIPS Technologies, Inc. Silicon Graphics is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc. Time Warner is a registered trademark of Time Warner, Inc.

EarthWatch is a trademark of EarthWatch Communications, Inc.

Industrial Light & Magic are registered trademarks of LucasFilms, Inc.

UNIX is a registered trademark of UNIX System Laboratories, Inc.

For information regarding this publication, send mail to The message should consist of the command "info nyn-emag". To subscribe, send mail to The message should consist of the command "subscribe nyn-emag". Your return email address will be added to the subscription list. If you wish to receive this magazine at an address other than that from which you are sending your request, send email with the subject "subscribe" to Include your email address in the message.

To include an article or announcement in this publication, send mail with the subject "submittal" to Please include contact information.

All products, services, and other statements regarding Silicon Graphics or third parties are subject to local availability and policies. Please contact your local Silicon Graphics or third party sales representative for information and details in your location.

This magazine is published as an information service to users of Silicon Graphics Computer Systems. Descriptions of, or references to, products or publications within this publication does not imply endorsement of that product or publication by Silicon Graphics. Silicon Graphics makes no warranty of any kind with respect to the subject matter included herein, the products listed herein, or the completeness or accuracy of this catalog. Silicon Graphics specifically disclaims all warranties, express, implied or otherwise, including without limitation, all warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

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