Silicon Graphics Image
Filename extension
.sgi, .rbg (among others)
Internet media type
Type code'.SGI'
Uniform Type Identifier (UTI)com.sgi.sgi-image[2]
Magic number01 DA
Developed byPaul Haeberli
Initial release0.95 / 1995; 29 years ago (1995)[3][4]
Latest release
1996; 28 years ago (1996)
Type of formatimage file
StandardSGI Image File Format[5]

Silicon Graphics Image (SGI) or the RGB file format is the native raster graphics file format for Silicon Graphics workstations.[4] The format was invented by Paul Haeberli.[4] It can be run-length encoded (RLE). FFmpeg and ImageMagick, among others, support this format.


Common file extensions are:

.sgi or .rgb
3 colour channels
3 colour channels and alpha
.bw or .int
black and white
black and white and alpha

This format was originally developed for IRIX. The master files of the SVT High Definition Multi Format Test Set are SGIs.[6][7][8] Frame 200 of the ParkJoy sequence in this set (15722.sgi, 3840×2160, 47.4 MB) was used in WebP comparisons.

Technical Details

SGI image format use big endian order. Image data scan from left to right from bottom to top.


Field number Hex offset Length Field name Description
1 0x00 2 byte File signature/magic number SGI Signature
2 0x02 1 byte Compression 0 = Uncompressed, 1 = RLE compressed
3 0x03 1 byte Bytes per pixel 1 = 8 bit, 2 = 16 bit
4 0x04 2 bytes Dimension Image dimension, 3 for RGBA image
5 0x06 2 bytes X size Image width
6 0x08 2 bytes Y size Image height
7 0x0A 2 bytes Number of channels Number channels in the image file, 4 for RGBA image
8 0x0C 4 bytes Minimum pixel value Smallest pixel value in image
9 0x10 4 bytes Maximum pixel value Largest pixel value in image
10 0x14 4 bytes Reserved Unused, ignore
11 0x18 80 bytes Image name NOTE: C strings end with last byte 0x00
12 0x68 4 bytes Color map ID Only for color map image
13 0x6C 404 bytes Dummy Buffer to scale the header to 512 bytes. Ignore

File Signature/Magic Number

Should equal 0x01 0xda for SGI file.


0 if the file is uncompressed; 1 for RLE compression.

Bytes Per Pixel Channel

Value is 1 for 8 bits per channel ; 2 for 16 bits per channel.


Value is 1 for 1 channel, 1 scanline image ; 2 for 1 channel, multiple scanlines image; 3 for multiple channels, multiple scanlines image (most common).

X Size

Scanline width in pixels.

Y Size

Number of scanlines in the image.

Number Of Channels

Number of channels in the image. Value is 1 for greyscale images; 3 for RGB; 4 for RGBA. SGI supports more than 4 channels.

Minimum Pixel Value

Smallest pixel value in all channels. Since SGI uses unsigned char or short types for channels, the smallest possible value is typically 0.

Maximum pixel value

Largest pixel value in all channels. Since SGI uses unsigned char or short types for channels, the largest possible value is typically 0xff for 8 bit/channel and 0xffff for 16 bit/channel.


4 bytes, unused.

Image name

Image name, 80-byte (maximum 79 characters ≠ 0x00) C string. If the name is shorter than 79 characters, all subsequent bytes are to be 0x00 in order to fill the 80-byte space.

Color Map ID

SGI supports 4 types of color mapping:

  1. 0x00 normal: image has 1 channel (greyscale), 3 channels (RGB) or 4 channels (RGBA).
  2. 0x01 dithered: image has packed RGB. First 3 bits are for R channel, next 3 bits are G channel, and last 2 bits are for B channel.
  3. 0x02 screen: image uses colormap. Pixel data is index in color map and image only have 1 channel.
  4. 0x03 colormap: file only have data for one color map (can use for different image file). This file no have image data.


404 bytes. Typically unused, scales the header to 512 bytes long.

Image Data

No Compression

Image data starts at byte 512 in file. Data length can be calculated using the following:

(X size) × (Y size) × (Num. of channels) × (Bytes per channel)

The data is separated for each channel. For example, if an image uses RGBA, the first set of scanlines represent the R channel, the next set of scanlines are for the G channel, then B channel and, lastly, A channel. Therefore, each set of scanlines can be accessed directly via the following formula (where C = channel index):

(X size) × (Y size) × (C ÷ Num. of channels) × (Bytes per channel)

RLE Compression

Offset tables start at byte 512. Their length can be calculated with the following:

(Y size) × (Num. of channels) × 4 bytes long

Each unsigned int in a table represent an offset (from file start) to the start of the compressed data of each scanline in each channel. The data is separated for each channel's scanline. If an image has RGBA channels, the order stays R, G, B and A.

Next is the data length table which can also be calculated with the formula:

(Y size) × (Num. of channels) × 4 bytes long

This table holds the size of the compressed data (unsigned int) of each scanline. This size should equal the difference of numbers in the offset table.

The last data block holds RLE compressed image data. If the number of bytes per channel is 1, the compressed data is of unsigned char type. Otherwise, if the number of bytes per channel is 2, the compressed data is of unsigned short type. The last byte of compressed scanline data has a value of 0.

(NOTE: The following paragraph could not be translated by the previous english editor)

For both case have unsigned char or unsigned short data, lowest 7 bits tell count. If bit 8 is zero, count is number times copy value after count. If bit 8 is one, count is number times copy series of values after count byte. For 2 bytes/channel image, count and value is unsigned short and top byte of count always equal zero.

(NOTE from english editor: what?)

See also


  1. ^ .sgi MIME type not registered at IANA
  2. ^ "CGImageSource.SupportedTypes". Claris FileMaker MBS Plug-in. MonkeyBread Software.
  3. ^ Paul Haeberli (1996). "The SGI Image File Format 0.97". Silicon Graphics. Retrieved 2014-03-07.[dead link] Alt URL
  4. ^ a b c James D. Murray; William van Ryper (April 1996). "SGI Image File Format File Format Summary". Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats, Second Edition. O'Reilly. ISBN 1-56592-161-5. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  5. ^ Paul Haeberli (1996). "The SGI Image File Format 1.00". Silicon Graphics. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  6. ^ Lars Haglund (Feb 2006). "The SVT High Definition Multi Format Test Set" (PDF). SVT. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  7. ^ "SVT_MultiFormat/2160p50_CgrLevels_Master_SVTdec05". Video Quality Experts Group (VQEG). 2006. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
  8. ^ Marta Mrak; Mislav Grgicb; Murat Kunt (2010). High-Quality Visual Experience: Creation, Processing and Interactivity of High-Resolution and High-Dimensional Video Signals. Signals and Communication Technology. Springer. pp. 147–154. ISBN 978-3-642-12802-8. LCCN 2010925849.