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Silicon Graphics and Cray Break Architectural Barriers to Scalable Computing

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S2MP Architecture, CrayLink Interconnect Technology and Cellular IRIX Operating System Make Scalability Affordable

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE:SGI) and its supercomputing subsidiary, Cray Research, Inc., today announced the S2MPTM architecture, a highly-scalable, modular architecture that redefines the purchase economics of computing and dramatically extends the upper limits of symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) architectures. Through a "building block" design, the S2MP (Scalable Sharedmemory MultiProcessor) architecture enables system scalability in a single 64-bit product line. The unprecedented, seamless scalability of the S2MP architecture addresses exponential data growth and the rapidly evolving needs of businesses, allowing them to scale their computing systems to meet their changing requirements.

"The S2MP architecture was specifically designed to handle the tremendous explosion in data and content sharing driven by emerging applications such as the World Wide Web, data warehousing and interactive high-performance computing," said Edward R. McCracken, chairman and chief executive officer of Silicon Graphics. "Together with Cray, we have developed technology with virtually unlimited scalability and a modular design that creates a 'pay as you grow' economic pricing model and sets an entirely new course in computing."

Key enabling technologies for the S2MP architecture include the CrayLinkTM interconnect technology, that eliminates the main bottlenecks associated with SMP technology, and the Cellular IRIXTM operating system, the industry's first truly open, modular operating system that enables seamless scalability from small to very large systems. In a separate announcement today, Silicon Graphics introduced the OriginTM server product line, the company's first implementation of the S2MP architecture.

"We are extremely enthusiastic about the S2MP architecture and the CrayLink interconnect, which are the first fruits of the increasing collaboration between the Silicon Graphics and Cray Research teams," said Bob Ewald, president of Cray Research, Inc. "Our combined engineering teams continue to work closely to extend our technology into future products. Today's S2MP announcement marks an important milestone toward the unified, binary-compatible 'desktop to teraflops' vision we unveiled last May."

The S2MP architecture scales to 1,024 processors using a modular, building-block approach. Each building block is a high-performance computer comprised of two MIPS® R10000TM processors, memory, I/O and a system interconnect. Multiple building blocks can be linked together using the CrayLink interconnect technology to form a larger, powerful single computer. More than any other SMP computer architecture, the S2MP architecture consistently maintains the highest bandwidth and lowest latency available in a multiprocessor system.

"Silicon Graphics has delivered an architecture that uniquely sustains linearly increasing system bandwidth while preserving outstanding low memory latencies," said Larry Smarr, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). "This technological breakthrough allows programmers to view S2MP systems the same as today's CHALLENGE® SMP systems. Because of this, NCSA has purchased Silicon Graphics' 128-processor Cray Origin2000TM system. This brings our users an exponential increase in scalability for the wide range of third-party applications that are integral to our computing environment."

"Craylink:" Scalability Redefined

Key to the S2MP architecture is the CrayLink technology, a multistage crossbar interconnect coupled with a new, distributed directory system for maintaining memory coherence and forming a powerful single computer. The technique of "linking," or interconnecting, multiple modules together into a single effective system enables organizations to reallocate resources at will.

For example, a company's finance, engineering and manufacturing departments can purchase its own systems in modules as their budgets permit and "CrayLink" their systems together forming a larger single computer to accommodate the peak load demands of any department. Further, for the first time in the history of computing, this large computer can be broken down into multiple smaller computers to support an organization's inherently dynamic structure.

"IT managers have always wanted to do capacity planning of their computing facilities at a finer granularity without having to invest in multiple, heterogeneous systems," said Debra Goldfarb, vice president, International Data Corporation (IDC). "Silicon Graphics' approach to building modular systems simply through upgrades will cause dramatic changes to the purchasing economics of computers."

Systems based on S2MP scale linearly in every aspect, including computational power, memory capacity and bandwidth, system interconnect bandwidth, I/O bandwidth and connectivity and network connectivity. For example, S2MP supports dozens of XIO interfaces, Silicon Graphics' high-speed I/O specification, each of which sustains a bandwidth of 1.25 GB/sec. This balanced design approach eliminates bottlenecks in performance for demanding applications including Web serving, data warehousing, video serving, scientific visualization, imaging and simulation.

"With Origin, Informix customers will achieve unprecedented data warehouse and on-line transaction processing performance, as its 64-bit architecture is uniquely capable of storing very large databases, up to 256 GB, entirely in main memory. The result is data access for Informix users that is orders of magnitude faster than accessing disk," said Phil White, chief executive officer of Informix. "Our strong partnership with Silicon Graphics has enabled us to provide customers with the Informix Universal Server combined with the Origin platform to uniquely offer solutions in animated visualization, rich media content, dynamic Web page generation and data mining."

An inherent feature of S2MP is the ability to isolate hardware and software failures, offering exceptional availability, operational flexibility and power, currently unavailable on commodity 32-bit architectures. Also, S2MP is the industry's first 64-bit cache-coherent, non-uniform memory access (NUMA) architecture, and is also the only computer architecture with the ability to address hundreds of gigabytes of configurable main memory with flat addressing.

Cellular IRIX Operating System

Cellular IRIX is a new approach to operating system design, evolving from Silicon Graphics' IRIX®, the industry's leading, scalable 64-bit technology based on UNIX. Cellular IRIX distributes replicated operating system kernal functions in "cells," each of which manage a subset of processors. Each operating system cell scales very efficiently and communicates with other cells to provide a single operating system interface to the user.

The cellular structure of the operating system combines with the modular S2MP hardware design to provide fault isolation and containment within individual cells. The result is a serviceable, high-availability solution. While providing new levels of speed and data protection, Cellular IRIX provides complete support for existing IRIX desktop, supercomputing and enterprise database applications, and in the near future will include data center resource management capabilities from the Cray high-end supercomputing environment. The Cellular IRIX operating system assures binary compatibility and thus, a smooth transition path from one era of computing into the next.

The discussion in this news release of new products and technologies contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including the timely release to manufacturing, the availability of components from suppliers, the impact of competitive products and pricing, and the other risks detailed from time to time in the company's SEC reports, including the report Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 1996. Actual results may vary materially.