SGI says it has shipped 170 Altix servers in the past 11 months, primarily to customers with high-end computing needs. These customers include NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and the Molecular Sciences Institute at Spain's University of Valencia. "We focus on creative and technical users in areas that have always been 64-bit," says SGI Altix product line director Andy Fenselau. The Altix servers will compete with midrange 64-bit servers from Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems.
SGI's embrace of open source hasn't been without its share of controversy. The company, which says it has contributed more than 1 million lines of code to the open-source community, last summer replaced about 200 lines of code it had originally contributed to the Linux kernel after discovering fragments of this code matched portions of the Unix System V source code to which SCO Group owns the rights.
In an Oct. 2, 2003, letter to the Linux community, Rich Altmaier, SGI's VP of software, disputed SCO's claims that additional contributions by his company were subject to the Unix System V license. "We take our responsibility to the open-source community seriously and are confident that we have an effective process to verify the quality and integrity of our contributions to Linux," Altmaier said in the letter.
SGI will continue to support the open-source community, although it has no plans to contribute to the Linux legal defense fund introduced earlier this week by IBM, Intel, and the Open Source Development Lab. "We're not going to lead legal battles," Fenselau says. "For our high-end, highly technical customers, it's surprisingly a nonissue."