SGI Onyx

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SGI Onyx
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The Silicon Graphics Onyx, code named Eveready (deskside models) and Terminator (rackmount models), is a series of visualization systems designed and manufactured by Silicon Graphics, introduced in 1993. The Onyx's basic system architecture is based on the SGI Challenge servers, but with the notable inclusion of graphics hardware. The Onyx was succeeded by the SGI Onyx2 in 1996 and was discontinued on 31 March 1999.

EBus boards

Onyx is a shared-memory multiprocessor computer very similar to Challenge. The system is based on nodes, which are implemented as boards that plug into a midplane containing Ebus slots and the POWERpath-2 "Ebus" bus, a system bus that the nodes use to communicate with other nodes. The POWERpath-2 bus consists of a 256-bit path for data and a 40-bit path for addressing clocked at 47.6 MHz (21-nanosecond cycle), providing 1.2 GB/s of sustained bandwidth.

CPU Boards

The deskside can take one CPU board, and the rackmount can take up to six CPU boards. There are three different types of CPU boards: IP19 (MIPS R4400) IP21 (MIPS R8000) and IP25 (MIPS R10000). Both models originally used the IP19 CPU board with one, two or four MIPS R4400 microprocessors, initially with 100 and 150 MHz options, later increased to 200 and 250 MHz. Later, the IP21 CPU board was introduced, with one or two R8000 microprocessors at 75 or 90 MHz; machines with this board were referred to as POWER Onyx. Finally, SGI introduced the IP25 board with one, two or four R10000 microprocessors at 195 MHz.

  • IP19 boards:
    • 030-0642-xxx: Single R4400, 100MHz, 1MB SC
    • 030-0249-00x: Dual R4400, 100MHz, 1MB SC
    • 030-0250-0xx: Quad R4400, 100MHz, 1MB SC
    • 030-0525-00x: Single R4400, 150MHz, 1MB SC
    • 030-0374-00x: Dual R4400, 150MHz, 1MB SC Photo
    • 030-0375-00x: Quad R4400, 150MHz, 1MB SC Photo
    • 030-0720-00x: Single R4400, 200MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0652-00x: Dual R4400, 200MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0653-00x: Quad R4400, 200MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0806-00x: Single R4400, 250MHz, 1MB SC
    • 030-0805-00x: Dual R4400, 250MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0804-00x: Quad R4400, 250MHz, 4MB SC

  • IP21 boards:
    • 030-0636-00x: Single R8000, 75MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0625-00x: Dual R8000, 75MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0751-00x: Single R8000, 90MHz, 4MB SC
    • 030-0702-00x: Dual R8000, 90MHz, 4MB SC

  • IP25 boards:
    • 013-1672-00x: Single R10000, 195MHz, 1MB SC
    • 013-1675-00x: Single R10000, 195MHz, 2MB SC
    • 030-1107-xxx: Dual R10000, 195MHz, 1MB or 2MB SC
    • 030-1107-xxx: Quad R10000, 195MHz, 1MB or 2MB SC
    • 030-1673-00x: Quad R10000, 195MHz, 2MB SC
    • 030-1673-101: Quad R10000, 195MHz, 2MB SC - Version 3.1 CPU - Not able to load IRIX 6.2

CPU Options

SGI Part Number Description
030-0249-0xx IP19 Dual-100mhz 1mb SC 5V
030-0250-0xx IP19 Quad-100mhz 1mb SC 5V
030-0374-xxx IP19 Dual-150mhz 1mb SC 3V
030-0375-xxx IP19 Quad-150mhz 1mb SC 3V
030-0375-xxx IP19 Quad-150mhz 1mb SC 3V
030-0525-xxx IP19 Single 150mhz 1mb SC 3V
030-0642-xxx IP19 Single 100mhz 1mb SC 5V
030-0652-xxx IP19 Dual-200mhz 4mb SC 3V
030-0653-xxx IP19 Quad-200mhz 4mb SC 3V
030-0720-xxx IP19 Single 200mhz 1mb SC 3V
030-0804-xxx IP19 Quad-250mhz 4mb SC 3V
030-0805-xxx IP19 Dual-250mhz 4mb SC 3V
030-0806-xxx IP19 Single 250mhz 1mb SC 3V
030-0625-xxx IP21 Dual-75mhz
030-0636-xxx IP21 Single 150mhz
030-1072-xxx IP25 Quad 195mhz


The memory is installed on an MC3 card which contains 32 slots. All MC3 boards support both 16MB (32* 16MB = 512MB maximum) and 64MB (32* 64MB = 2GB maximum) simms.

  • MC3 boards
    • 030-0245-00x - earliest MC3 board
    • 030-0604-xxx
    • 030-0607-001 Photo
    • 030-0613-xxx
    • 030-0614-xxx Photo
    • 030-0614-106 - latest MC3 board
  • SIMMs
    • 030-0256-00x: 16MB SIMM (pink stripe)
    • 030-0257-001: 64MB SIMM, two PCB sandwich (purple/green stripe)
    • 030-0257-002: 64MB SIMM, single PCB(purple/green stripe)

IO Board

The IO4 board provides the main I/O of the system such as ethernet/serial/parallel communications, interrupt ports, keyboard/mouse, and SCSI. There are also two HIO mezzanine option slots and the VCAM (VME Channel Adapter Module) interface

  • IO4 boards
    • 030-0240-00x: early IO4 Photo
    • 030-0377-00x: early IO4
    • 030-0646-xxx: common IO4
    • 030-0646-107: supports IP21 and IP25 CPU boards
    • 030-0815-00x: supports InfiniteReality Graphics
  • VCAM boards
    • 030-0536-00x: GCAM for Extreme graphics
    • 030-0243-00x: VCAM
    • 030-0500-xxx: VCAM compatable with InfiniteReality
    • 030-0502-00x: Remote VCAM for use in rackmount chassis

Peripheral Expansion

The onyx rack provides...

The onyx deskside provides 3 VMEbus slots, in addition there are two HIO mezzanine slots on an IO4 board. There is room for 7 3.5 or 5.25 sled-mounted SCSI devices in the chassis. Some HIO mezzanine boards are too long to be mounted on an IO4 with a VCAM also installed.

HIO mezzanine options

  • flat cable interface (long) - to connect to remote VCAM
  • flat cable interface (short) - to connect to remote VCAM
  • three-channel SCSI (short)
  • SAMZ Audio/Serial daughterboard (short)
  • various FDDI boards

VMEbus options

  • VigraSound
  • Sirius Video

Graphics Options

There are four graphic options for onyx: Extreme, VTX, RealityEngine2, and Infinite Reality

RealityEngine2 Graphics

RealityEngine2 includes a GE10 board, up to four RM4 or RM5 boards, and a DG2 board.

  • 030-0325-00x: GE10 - Geometry Engine with 12 intel i860xp chips Photo
  • 030-0359-001: RM4 - Raster Manager with 4MB texture memory Photo
  • 030-0360-001: RM4T - RM4 with resistors removed
  • 030-0347-00x: RM5T - Raster Manager with 16MB texture memory
  • 030-0513-00x: DG2 - Display Generator Photo
  • 030-0292-xxx: front panel connection for video/monitor
    • (connects to display generator)
  • 030-0233-001: DI1 edge connector
    • connects raster manager(s) to display generator
  • 030-0506-00x: PAB1 Sirius Video interface (optional)
    • interfaces Sirius Video to DG2 Display Generator

VTX Graphics

The VTX option is similar to RealityEngine2, but comes with a GE10V (part# 030-0363-00x) instead of a GE10 which features only 6 intel i860 chips instead of 12 and a frontplane connector that allows for only one RM board.

InfiniteReality Graphics

Infinite Reality includes a GE12 board, up to two (deskside*) or four (rack) RM6 boards, and a DG4 board.

* - standard configuration permits a maximum of two raster managers in a deskside due to power requirements, however it is possible to use up to 4 RM6 boards in a deskside with rack power boards. These will stick out the back of the chassis approximately six inches. sample hinv and discussion

  • 030-0681-003: GE12-4 Geometry Engine with 4 SGI-designed processors
    • there are empty solder pads to allow for a possible "GE12-8",
      with 8 processors, but this was never created
  • 030-0683-004: RM6-16 Raster Manager with 20 'image engines' and 16MB TRAM
  • 030-0684-004: RM6-64 Raster Manager with 20 'image engines' and 64MB TRAM
  • 030-0686-004: DG4-2 Display Generator
    • provides two monitor outputs
  • 030-0687-004: DG4-8 Display Generator
    • provides eight monitor outputs
  • 030-0711-001: frontplane connector
    • connects Raster Manager(s) to Display Generators
  • 030-0766-00x: PAB2 Sirius Video interface (optional)
    • interfaces Sirius Video to DG4 Display Generator

Chassis & Power Considerations


  • The deskside chassis is 26 inches high, 21 inches wide, and 29 inches deep
  • The deskside chassis weighs a minimum of 195 pounds
  • The deskside chassis consumes a maximum of 1500W at 110V, 1900W at 220V for RE2 graphics, 2400W at 220V for IR graphics

off-line switcher

  • the off-line switcher (OLS) converts the line voltage from 110-240V AC to 48V dc for use with the DC-DC converters on the EBus cards and power cards
    • 013-0513-00x: 1900W OLS for Extreme, VTX, and RealityEngine2
    • 013-1592-00x: 2400W OLS for InfiniteReality

Power Boards

  • the power boards convert the 48V DC from the OLS to the 3.3V, 5V, 12V, etc, used by the system.
    • the MC3 and IP boards have DC-DC power converters on-board and accept the 48V from the OLS
    • 512T power board provides power to the IO4 and VME bus
    • 505 power board provides power to RealityEngine2 graphics and optional additional 5V power for VMEbus
    • 303 power board provides 3.3V power for InfiniteReality graphics
    • 305 power board provides 3.3V power for InfiniteReality graphics and optional additional 5V power for VMEbus

System Controller

The system controller is installed in the rear side of the backplane next to the power boards and connects to the keyswitch, buttons, and LCD display on the front panel

  • The System Controller has three basic operating modes:
    • It acts as a control conduit when directed by an operator to power off or boot up the system. It actively displays a running account of the boot process and flags any errors encountered. It sends the master CPU a message when a system event such as power off or a reboot is initiated.
    • When operating conditions are within normal limits, the System Controller is a passive monitor. Its front panel LCD offers a running CPU activity graph that shows the level of each on-board microprocessor’s activity. Previously logged errors are available for inspection using the front panel control buttons to select menus.
    • The System Controller can also act independently to shut down the system when it detects a threatening condition. Or it can adjust electromechanical parameters (such as blower fan speed) to compensate for external change. Error information stored in the log is available in both the On and Manager positions. Service personnel can use the Manager key position functions to probe for system error information.

Cardcage Slot Assignments

  • VTX, RealityEngine2
    • 1: MC3
    • 2: CPU
    • 3: IO4
    • 4: VCAM
    • 5: VME
    • 6: VME
    • 7: VME
    • 8: GE10
    • 9: DG2
    • 10: third or fourth RM4 or RM5
    • 11: second RM4 or RM5
    • 12: third or fourth RM4 or RM5
    • 13: first RM4 or RM5
  • InfiniteReality
    • 1: MC3
    • 2: CPU
    • 3: IO4
    • 4: VCAM
    • 5: VME
    • 6: VME
    • 7: VME
    • 8: GE12
    • 9: first RM6
    • 10: reserved
    • 11: second RM6
    • 12: reserved
    • 13: DG4


Important Patches

IRIX patch 7009 is best known for fixing an upgrade/installation bug with rqsall(1m) under 6.5.22 (and possible 6.5.21) on systems featuring R8000-based IP21 or IP26 boards. These are usually found in the POWER Indigo2 and POWER Onyx workstations. The key to upgrading these systems to 6.5.22 is to make sure patch 7009 is applied before you run rqsall(1m) at the end of your installation. This way the corrected rqsall(1m) will be used to setup the system for reboot.

See the thread reference here for additional details.


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