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Silicon Graphics 'takes gloves off' to challenge VOD server incumbents

Mon, 04/08/2002 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) said it will go after incumbent video-on-demand server providers such as Concurrent Computer Corp., nCUBE Corp. and SeaChange International with a new, low-cost server platform designed to handle up to 600 streams of video at a cost of roughly $255 per stream.

SGI, whose VOD history goes back to Time Warner Cable's Full Service Network trial in Orlando, Fla. in the mid-1990s, said its new Origin 300 server and Total Performance TP900 storage system can be configured with a choice of video pumps from either Thirdspace or Kasenna. SGI's full server architecture is comprised of layers of hardware, media-streaming pumps and iTV applications.

SGI is selling the entire configuration for developers' use starting at $17,000. Production configurations capable of delivering 125 streams of video begin at $42,000, and the 600-stream version starts at $153,000.

"Having been one of the early pioneers in this now emerging [VOD] arena, SGI is taking its gloves off and really targeting this market," said SGI Vice President of Corporate Marketing Greg Estes, in a press release.

SGI's VOD gear will compete directly with proprietary VOD systems offered to cable operators today. "We are offering customers end-to-end solutions built on an open systems architecture that will ensure rapid adoption and deployment of the SGI VOD platform worldwide," Estes added.

SGI has yet to crack the North American VOD market. SGI presently has VOD deployments with Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting; Telefonica Servicios Audiovisuales, which is conducting a 120-room hotel VOD pilot project in Madrid, Spain; and with Chunghwa Telecom Co., which is offering movies-on-demand services in Taiwan.

Opening up VOD specifications and standards is also a hot topic in North America. Earlier this year, CableLabs completed a VOD content specification that calls for common handling of descriptive metadata and video encoding. CableLabs is also working on additional VOD specifications for North American MSOs, but has yet to announce specific details about them.

Most incumbent VOD platform vendors have told CED that they are supportive of those specifications, noting that they will drive down costs and enable MSOs to roll out on-demand services en masse.

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