Could seven players play Quake on a single SGI machine from 1996?
[Linus Tech Tips] undertook a fun experiment a few years ago. By running multiple virtual machines on a single tower PC with tons of RAM and GPUs, it was possible to let seven players play on one platform at a time. [CelGenStudios] found the idea intriguing, and speculated that the same feat might be possible on Silicon Graphics hardware from the mid-1990s.
The idea is to use the Origin 2000 server as a base. These don’t come with any form of video output or even a keyboard and mouse interface. However, by replacing the IO6G module of the Onyx2 machine and the SI graphics cards of the Octane, it is possible to make the graphics and inputs work. With multiple graphics cards and a few DUO CAD cards installed via a PCI adapter called a “shoebox”, it is possible to install up to four separate monitors, keyboards and mice. With all this hardware, it is theoretically possible for four users to connect to the X server running IRIX OS on the Origin 2000 machine. Then, it is sufficient to trigger four instances of Tremor and a dedicated server and you’re good to go.
[CelGenStudios] goes so far as to explore the limits of supercomputer grade hardware, suggesting that 7 or more players might be possible. Unfortunately, SGI hardware isn’t easy to find, nor cheap, even decades after its release – so far, the concept has yet to be tested. We would very much like to see such a configuration occur at QuakeCon or a hacker, if you’re successful you know what to call. We note that there are a few Octane 2000s in the Jim Austin Computer Collection, so maybe they will pull off the feat.
In the meantime, experience a hands-on exploration of the concept on modern hardware with the original. [Linus Tech Tips] project. The basic theory is simple: create an extremely powerful PC, with a beefy processor, lots of RAM, and a graphics card for each of the seven players. They run multiple virtual machines and have managed to deliver a full 7 player experience with a single processor.