For years, Edward R. McCracken, chairman and CEO of Silicon Graphics, has seen his company's high-powered computers create dazzling special effects, such as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. If all goes well, McCracken will soon enter the world of high-end supercomputing, as used by government code-breakers and nuclear-weapons designers. On Feb. 26, Silicon Graphics agreed to buy supercomputing market leader Cray Research for a combination of stock and cash worth $783 million. The deal will boost SGI's annual revenues to more than $3 billion. Cray, which expects to see profits improve this year, will act as a buffer against competition from Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard. McCracken plans to keep Cray and SGI operations separate but may partially merge their computer designs. SGI may also use Cray to crack the commercial market, where supercomputers are used to search through huge databases. If he succeeds, he's betting it will have a special effect on SGI's bottom line.
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