SGI Onyx

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Deskside Onyx.
Onyx IO Ports.

The SGI Onyx, code named Eveready (deskside models) and Terminator (rackmount models), is a series of visualization systems designed and manufactured by SGI, introduced in 1993 and offered in two models, deskside and rackmount. The Onyx's basic system architecture is based on the SGI Challenge servers, but with the notable inclusion of graphics hardware.

The Onyx was employed in early 1995 for development kits used to produce software for the Nintendo 64 and, because the technology was so new, the Onyx was noted as the major factor for the impressive price of US$100,000[1]US$250,000[2] for such kits.

The Onyx was succeeded by the Onyx2 in 1996 and was discontinued on March 31, 1999.


IP19 with quad R4400s.

The deskside variant can take one CPU board, and the rackmount variant can take up to six CPU boards. 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.

Graphics subsystem[edit]

The Onyx initially used the RealityEngine2 or VTX graphics subsystems, and later, InfiniteReality, which was introduced in 1995.


The RealityEngine2 is the original high-end graphics subsystem for the Onyx and was produced in two models. The deskside model had one GE12 board with 12 GE (Geometry Engine) processors, up to four RM4 boards, and a DG4 board. The rackmount model differed by supporting four RM4 or RM5 boards, but was otherwise the same.


The VTX graphics subsystem is a cost reduced version of the RealityEngine2, using the same hardware but in a feature reduced configuration that could not be upgraded. It consisted of one GE10 board with six GE (Geometry Engine) processors, an RM4 board and a DG2 board.


The InfiniteReality succeeded the RealityEngine2 as the high-end graphics subsystem for the Onyx when introduced in 1996. It was produced in two models, the deskside model consisted of a GE12 board with GE11 geometry engines, one or two RM6 boards and a DG4 board while the rackmount model differed by supporting up to four RM6 boards.


  1. ^ "Silicon Graphics: showing off". Edge (7): 18–19. April 1994. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  2. ^ Gaming Gossip. Electronic Gaming Monthly. Issue 69. Pg.52. April 1995.

Further reading[edit]

  • POWER Onyx and Onyx Deskside Owner's Guide (document number: 007-1733-070).
  • POWER Onyx and Onyx Rackmount Owner's Guide (document number: 007-1736-060).