The Sgi Cult Won't Save It From Faster Chips

Silicon Graphics Inc. may be flying high now ("The gee-whiz company," Cover Story, July 18), but the future is bleak. I design integrated circuits and use Hewlett-Packard Co. workstations for their speed, but I use my 486-based PC more than my workstation. Why? Because even for chip designers like me, computers must now meet a range of needs, from writing a memo, running a spreadsheet, and providing E-mail to running sophisticated modeling and simulation programs at high speed. Even if workstations maintain their speed advantage, their high cost, lack of versatility, and lack of software are rapidly relegating them to "server" status.

Silicon Graphics' strong suit is its graphics, which are more difficult to deliver from a server. But video speeds in PCs have increased by about two orders of magnitude (100 times) in the past five years. As thousands more engineers begin working on faster graphics chips for PCs in the next few years, PC video speed will approach SGI's speed, at a small fraction of the cost. When combined with new operating systems and inexpensive software, even SGI's cult won't be enough.

Mike Palmer

Laguna Hills, Calif.

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