Blog: 09 April 2009 - IRIX for x86 and the 700MHz O2

As I was testing Radeon Kernel Mode-setting on Alpha, I casually started a conversation with Jesse Barnes, an Intel Graphics developer. I recalled that he was an ex-SGI employee, and being interested in SGI computers myself decided to ask him a question or two. What I learned about SGI absolutely floored me.

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Blog: 18 July 2008 - Radeon X1550 in an SGI O2?

In a thread on the SGI Enthusiast site, Nekochan.net, about Linux compatibility with SGI's MIPS based line of workstations, a user, tillin9, suggested the possibility of installing modern, off the shelf graphics cards in the SGI O2 under Linux. The O2 is equipped with a single PCI slot for expansion, so physically installing a new graphics card is no problem. Unfortunately, graphics cards require special initialization code, stored in the card's ROM, to be run at boot time. Since the Radeon's initialization routine has to be able to execute on the processor architecture in the computer in which it's installed, different code is required for x86, PowerPC, PA-RISC, SPARC, and MIPS. Since there weren't any PCI Radeon's made for MIPS powered workstations, surely ten years later, a modern Radeon would never work in an old SGI workstation...

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