SGI Indy

From Higher Intellect wiki
Revision as of 02:03, 13 January 2018 by Netfreak (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
SGI Indy

This will be a collection of information regarding the SGI (Silicon Graphics) Indy workstation. The Indy was released in 1993 and discontinued in 1997.

CPU Options

SGI Part Number Description
030-8100-002 R4000PC 100MHz Primary Cache only
030-8101-004 R4000SC 100MHz 1MB SC
030-8260-002 R4400SC 100MHz 1MB SC
030-8201-001 R4400SC 150MHz 1MB SC
030-8205-003 R4400SC 175MHz 1MB SC
030-0882-001 R4400SC 200MHz 1MB SC
030-8236-001 R4600PC 100MHz Primary Cache only
030-8252-004 R4600SC 133MHz 512KB SC
030-0986-002 R5000SC 150MHz 512KB SC
030-0991-002 R5000PC 150MHz Primary Cache only
030-0985-002 R5000SC 180MHz 512KB SC


The SGI Indy features eight 72-pin RAM slots (two banks, each with four slots) for a maximum memory configuration of 256MB. Compatible RAM must be 36-bit wide 72-pin SIMMs (FPM, parity, 70 or 60ns). The Indy board uses gold on the memory slots and you should use SIMMs with gold leads if possible, though many people have reported standard tin leads working fine. You may need to re-seat the SIMMs after a certain number of years.

Modern Indy Usage

The SGI Indy can only be upgraded to a certain point, and OS wise you can go as far as IRIX 6.5.22. We'll discuss a few things we've come across while working on our own Indy as part of the Higher Intellect Technology Museum. If you're interested in running some more recent open source software made available by SGI enthusiasts, you'll want to consider the R5000 MIPS4 generation CPU. The Nekoware community project features a number of software packages which require a MIPS4.

Upgrading Hardware

To achieve the highest possible performance, you'll want to install an R5000SC CPU module. In order to use any R5000 CPU in the SGI Indy you'll need to ensure the PROM version output matches "PROM Monitor SGI Version 5.3 Rev B10 R4X00/R5000 IP24 Feb12, 1996 (BE)" which can be done by entering the console from the initial Indy boot options and running the "version" command. If your Indy is running an older PROM, you can still find later versions on the used market. If you're performing the R5000 upgrade in an Indy with an existing IRIX install, you will need to perform a re-install as the OS requires a different set of libraries for this CPU (MIPS4 generation as opposed to the R4X00 MIPS3 CPU more commonly found in the Indy).

As the prices for 72-pin RAM on the used market are fairly low, you'll want to upgrade the Indy to at least 128MB or right to the maximum of 256MB especially if you're going to run IRIX 6.5.22. If your Indy is still running the 8-bit XL graphics, you'll likely want to upgrade to the 24-bit graphics card. The XZ board provides more powerful 3D abilities for Indys running R4X00 CPUs, but if you're running the R5000 you'll probably want the XL board as the CPU is capable of doing the 3D processing. For local disk storage in your Indy, please see the SCSI2SD section below as it may not be worth attempting to find old SCSI drives to use.

Running IRIX 6.5.22

If you've upgraded the CPU and RAM in your Indy and now want to run the latest available IRIX version, you'll need the core IRIX 6.5 CDs along with the 6.5.22 overlays and application CDs. Now, most likely your Indy is only entitled to use a version of IRIX such as 5.3 or 6.2 meaning you would normally need to purchase IRIX 6.5 and the 6.5.22 upgrade. As IRIX is no longer a supported operating system and you may find it difficult to find copies of the software on the used market, you do have the option of downloading these images from sites such as WinWorld. This probably isn't something a true SGI enthusiast would enjoy you doing but IRIX support ended in 2013 and we would consider this to essentially be a dead operating system at this point.

Now that you're purchased or downloaded the required media, what now? The SGI Indy does not come with an internal CD-ROM drive so your best bet is using an external CD-ROM. We've read that the Indy should work fine with most SCSI CD-ROMs, and we performed the 6.5.22 install ourselves using an Apple 4x (CD 600e) external drive and HPBD50 to CN50 cable. When you boot the Indy, enter the console from the maintenance menu and check that your drive shows up by running "hinv -v" and finding the listed device. If you see the CD-ROM drive show up as every SCSI ID on the bus, that means you've got an ID conflict and you need to change the jumper.


Due to the age of the hardware, likely any original SCSI disks in the Indy computers are either dead or nearing death. There are a few solutions for replacing the internal storage with something more reliable, but we'll focus on the SCSI2SD option here. This information is originally found at among other places.

  1. Purchase a SCSI2SD v5 board and ideally a class 10 microSD card. The SCSI2SD can be ordered from
  2. Download the scsi2sd-util application from and plug the USB port in
  3. Under the General Settings tab, enable the options "Enable Parity" and "Enable SCSI2 Mode"
  4. Under the Deivce 1 tab, set the ID to something other than 0 (generally you should use 1). Type is hard drive, SD card start sector is 0, sector size is 512. The sector count and other options should have populated themselves and can be left. If the sector count is empty you might need to "load from device" though this will require you to set all the options again. When done, save to device.
  5. Remove the onboard termination resistors from the SCSI2SD socket as this is not needed in the Indy.
  6. You might need to get creative with mounting the SCSI2SD inside the Indy...

Assuming you don't have any other OS drive in the system, open a console when the Indy boots into its system menu and run a "hinv" to verify the SCSI disk shows up (should be bus 0, ID 1).


Indy Gallery

Related Links

Share your opinion