Silicon Graphics are launching the successor line to its Onyx visualization systems. Called Prism, the systems run Linux on Itanium 2 processors.

Like the Onyx systems, the Prism line is designed for use for advanced visual computing applications such as video post-production, GIS and medical research. They will also use the same ATI graphics accelerators and NUMAflex shared memory architecture as SGI's MIPS-based systems.

The Prism line, which has begun shipping over the last few months, will come in configurations of between two and 512 Itanium 2 processors and will support as many as 16 graphics accelerators, also called "pipelines".

Pricing on the systems will start at $30,000 (around £17,000), around $10,000 less than comparable entry-level Onyx systems, said SGI.

The move from SGI can be seen as a response to a growing movement away from expensive dedicated hardware to PC-based Linux systems for visual computing including post-production.

SGI’s announcement follows news from Discreet that their Flint and Smoke are available for Linux. HP will also plan to soon port OpenGL Performer and OpenGL Volumizer developer tools to Linux.