you want to get hands on an Octane, but you don't know what you
have to care about. This page tries to give you some valuable
hints and tips that should help your decision.
The following CPU options are available for the SGI Octane:
|| 360 Mhz
The higher the CPU brand (R10000 etc), the newer and faster the
CPU. There are both single and dual configurations of all CPUs
available for Octanes. Unfortunately you cannot simply upgrade
a single CPU Octane to a dual CPU one by plugging in a second
processor; you have to exchange the whole CPU module by a dual
CPU module, because the CPU(s) are soldered onto the module (the
CPU module is a small board, not the whole motherboard).
The R12000 CPU is the best affordable CPU at the moment, but
in many cases you are better of with a dual R10000 Octane (2x195MHz
R10000 is faster in many cases than a 1x300MHz R12000 CPU). I
did not see a single R14000 SGI on ebay yet, and dual-R12000 modules
are already rather expensive.
The following graphic options are available for the Octane -
the Octane2 also has newer graphic options (the VPro series),
but these are still very rare and aren't affordable for hobbyists.
||ESI / SE
||ESSI / SSE
||EMXI / MXE
You can updare a SI to a SI+TRAM by adding a TRAM module (expensive)
or a SSI to an MXI by adding two TRAM modules (even more expensive)
For the newer ESI/ESSI series you need special TRAM modules for
upgrading, these are really, really expensive.
There are also newer graphic cards, the VPro series, and their
name is V6, V8, V10 and V12. But these graphic cards don't appear
on ebay very often and already the worst , V6, which really isn't
that much faster than MXI, really gets expensive.
Most Octanes come with 512MB RAM - that should be enough for
most applications. 256MB will also suffice, but you should not
take an Octane with less memory, as IRIX 6.5 will perform worse
with less than 256MB.
Octanes with an older mainboard (part no 030-0887-00x) can hold
up to 2GB of RAM, Octanes with newer mainboards (part no 030-1467-xxx)
up to 8GB. BTW this is the most important difference between the
old and new version of the motherboard. You can use almost all
CPUs in both boards, only the 270MHz R12000 does not run in the
old mainboard - as far as I know.
The memory modules itself are again special modules - you cannot
take simple PC memory modules. Fortunately these are often available
4. Disc Drives
You can plug in up to three Harddiscs into an Octane, plus it
has an external SCSI connector which uses a second SCSI bus for
additional extensions, like a CD-ROM drive or DAT drive or external
harddiscs. For internal drives, you need special drive sleds and
SCA harddiscs with an 80pin connector.
If you buy an Octane, I would suggest it should have at a 9GB
harddisc or even bigger - of course this depends on the work you
are planning to do. A 4GB harddisc seems to me a bit too small,
especially if you want to install many other programs, like the
tons of freeware, which can be obtained from http://freeware.sgi.com.
5. Power supply
There are two ersions of PSUs for the Octane: The old from Lucent
(part no 060-0028-xxx and 060-0038-xxx) with a black handle and
a newer from Cherokee (part no 060-0035-xxx) with a silver handle.
The newer PSU is needed for VPro graphics and is a bit more silent.
The first versions of the Lucent PSUs are said to fail a bit more
often. On the other hand, VPro graphic cards are still that expensive
that it would be best to wait another year and replace your complete
Octane, so I wouldn't spend too much attention on this detail.
My own Octane has an old Lucent Power supply and works great.
6. Other extensions
There are some other extensions for the Octane like a Video
Option for Video Input/Output. Most of these extensions use a
proprietary form factor and connector, the XIO format. And most
of them are really expensive, especially the video options are
rare on ebay and cost a lot. There is also a PCI-cardcage, this
is an add on which enables you to install PCI cards itno your
Octane - but there is only a handfull of PCI cards actually supported
7. Other Details of Interest
There are some other items you should check before buying
a specific Octane:
- What is the general cosmetic condition?
- Does the lightbar work? Often the lightbar does not work any
more, because SGI didn't use LEDs but only simple bulbs. You
may replace these with a LED.
- Is the lockbar present? It prevents opening the case by unauthorized
- Are keyboard and mouse included? Of course, any PS/2 keyboard
and mouse will do, but maybe you really want SGI input devices.
- Are the Octane speakers included? With the speakers its just
the same, you can use any PC speakers, but maybe...
- Is IRIX installed, which version? Is it a clean install? Do
you also get the installation CDs?