Silicon Graphics (SGI) has announced several new hardware and software products that support a new SGI initiative whose goal is to let users access advanced graphical content over standard networks using a variety of computing devices. The new initiative, called Visual Area Networking (VAN), will allow for this type of sophisticated and extremely bandwidth-intensive graphical content to be hosted on a server or supercomputer, and distributed over networks using devices such as laptops, tablet PCs, and eventually, PDAs (personal digital assistants), the company said in a statement. A VAN will allow for real-time access and manipulation of data by widely dispersed users, said Greg Estes, vice president of corporate marketing for SGI. As part of the announcement, SGI released a new software product, OpenGL Vizserver 2.0, which will deliver the graphical data created on SGI's computers to handheld devices and mobile computers, regardless of the operating system used on the target device. Traditionally, users who wished to create advanced graphics on SGI's systems had to be present in the same room as one of its supercomputers or workstations, due to the enormous file sizes of the graphics programs, said SGI. OpenGL Vizserver 2.0 does not move the actual data bits created by the back-end supercomputers, but instead breaks that data down into pixels which are transported across networks, and then reassembled into graphics at the target location, the company said. This increases the security of the data by prohibiting duplicates of the original program from circulating around networks, SGI said. SGI also released details on a new system, the Onyx 300. The Onyx 300 is a combination of modules from SGI's Origin series of servers, and is designed as a first step into the Onyx series of machines. Powering the Onyx 300 is the InfiniteReality3 system of graphics pipes, which produces SGI's highest quality image, said Estes. A graphics pipe is a special hardware unit that allows for the real-time display of 3D graphics. The system comes with two 500MHz CPUs, expandable up to 32 CPUs; 512MB of RAM; an 18GB disk drive; a 24-inch 1,920-x-1,200 pixel monitor; and SGI's proprietary Unix OS, Irix 6.5. You better start saving, though - the list price for the Onyx 300 starts at £85,000, and it will be available in the first quarter of 2002. A new graphics product was also unveiled as part of the announcement. The InfinitePerformance graphics subsystem will be available on the higher end Onyx 3000 series machines, said Estes. In addition, SGI released a workstation called the Silicon Graphics Fuel visual workstation. This system lists at £8,000, and comes with SGI VPro V10 graphics, 32MB of graphics memory, a 500MHz processor, and 512MB of memory. It also runs Irix as its OS.