The Ancient Computer

NOTE: This entry is already obsolete as I was forced to retire the Indigo after a series of hardware failures left it severely crippled. Ryouko will be missed. My Indigo2 IMPACT, Mika (named after the lead character in the anime Geneshaft), is now running the site.

It's quite amazing really, running a web site (among other things) on a computer that's now ten years old. That's right, the Silicon Graphics Indigo Elan R4400 powering this website was introduced in early 1992 (then stocked with a 64-bit, 100MHz MIPS R4000 RISC CPU). I suppose you could argue that this particular configuration formally turns a decade old in 2003 (which is when the 150-MHz MIPS R4400 that now powers the mighty Ryouko was released as an upgrade option for the R4000), but either way it's far removed from what we now consider an effective service life.

The Indigo At Work: A rack of Indigo machines at Fermilab. The Indigo At Work: Rack of Indigos at Fermilab during the 90's.

I've given serious thought to replacing the machine with something more modern, either a newer IRIX system or perhaps even a Macintosh running OS X, but for some reason I can't bring myself to do it despite having hardware for both options available to me. I derive a sort of obscure pleasure knowing that old, "obsolete" hardware which goes for pennies on the dollar on eBay and increasingly populates dumpsters can still perform serious tasks and perform them well. How many webservers are still out there running on Indigos anyway?

I am incredibly impressed by SGI's continued support of the Indigo. To this day, the latest and greatest versions of IRIX still run on it, and add on cards like Galileo and Cosmo Compress still receive maintenance updates. I often wonder if there are individuals at SGI that have a fondness for the machine and keep the support alive for nostalgia, or perhaps there are still large customers running Indigos someplace (an intriguing thought!) Especially considering the Crimson lost support as of IRIX 6.2 and contained the same R4400 CPUs, and even further back, the Indigo R3000 lost support as of IRIX 5.3.

Perhaps more prophetic than intended ...

Perhaps more prophetic than intended ...

I now have a more powerful SGI machine, a fully loaded Indigo2 R10000 MaximumImpact which I could press into service if need be. But for now I think I'll keep plugging along with the machine that has served me well in the 20th century and continues to perform equally well in the 21st.

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This page contains a single entry by nekonoko published on November 3, 2002 2:37 AM.

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