SGI High IMPACT Graphics (1995)

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SGI Indigo2 IMPACT systems were the best workstations for game development and other activities involving textured 3D rendering in 1995. My system is equipped with High IMPACT Graphics, which is a two-card solution with a dedicated geometry engine (one million triangles/s), raster engine with two pixel processors (two pixel per cycle, 60-70 textured Mpixels/s), 12MB of pixel memory and a single texture-mapping unit with its own 1MB of texture memory.

The high-end option was called Maximum IMPACT Graphics. It took three slots in the computer and doubled the rasterisation performance by using exactly the same principle that was later used by 3Dfx Voodoo2 SLI (scan line interleaving).

The 3D performance of SGI Indigo2 IMPACT was years ahead of PCs and other workstations. In fact, 3Dfx Voodoo2, the best gaming 3D accelerator for PCs in 1998, had similar performance to High IMPACT graphics but unlike the IMPACT series, it didn’t support windowed rendering, 32-bit color precision and high resolutions.

The last two photos show Indigo2 IMPACT systems during the development of Final Fantasy VII (source: Sony press kit).

GPUbench results – compare the SGI Maximum IMPACT performance with other 3D accelerators of the same era.