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Encyclopedia > Workstation
Sun SPARCstation 1+, 25 MHz RISC processor from early 1990s

A workstation, such as a Unix workstation, RISC workstation or engineering workstation, is a high-end desktop or deskside microcomputer designed for technical applications. Workstations are intended primarily to be used by one person at a time, although they can usually also be accessed remotely by other users when necessary. Image File history File links SPARCstation_1. ... Image File history File links SPARCstation_1. ... Sun SPARCstation 1+ pizzabox, 25mhz RISC processor, early 1990s SPARCstation was the name given to a series of SPARC-based computer workstations developed and sold by Sun Microsystems. ... Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC), is a microprocessor CPU design philosophy that favors a smaller and simpler set of instructions that all take about the same amount of time to execute. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC), is a microprocessor CPU design philosophy that favors a smaller and simpler set of instructions that all take about the same amount of time to execute. ... Engineering is the applied science of acquiring and applying knowledge to design, analysis, and/or construction of works for practical purposes. ... Desktop computer with several common peripherals (Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, microphone and a printer) A desktop computer is a computer made for use on a desk in an office or home and is distinguished from portable computers such as laptops or PDAs. ... The Commodore 64 was one of the most popular microcomputers of its era, and is the best selling home computer of all time. ...


Workstations usually offer higher performance than is normally seen on a personal computer, especially with respect to graphics, processing power, memory capacity and multitasking ability. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Processor can mean: A central processing unit of a computer. ...


Workstations are often optimized for displaying and manipulating complex data such as 3D mechanical design, engineering simulation results, and mathematical plots. Consoles usually consist of a high resolution display, a keyboard and a mouse at a minimum, but often support multiple displays and may often utilize a server level processor. For design and advanced visualization tasks, specialized input hardware such as graphics tablets or a SpaceBall can be used. Workstations have classically been the first part of the computer market to offer advanced accessories and collaboration tools such as videoconferencing capability. It has been suggested that Keystroke be merged into this article or section. ... Two wireless computer mice, with scroll wheels A mouse is a handheld pointing device for computers, involving a small object fitted with one or more buttons and shaped to sit naturally under the hand. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A Wacom Graphire4 graphics tablet. ... SpaceBall is a 6 degrees of freedom input device developed by 3DConnexion. ... It has been suggested that H.331 be merged into this article or section. ...


Following the performance trends of computers in general, today's average personal computer is more powerful than the top-of-the-line workstations of one generation before. As a result, the workstation market is becoming increasingly specialized, since many complex operations that formerly required high-end systems can now be handled by general-purpose PCs. However, workstations are designed and optimized for situations requiring considerable computing power, where they tend to remain usable while traditional personal computers quickly become unresponsive. Gordon Moores original graph from 1965 Growth of transistor counts for Intel processors (dots) and Moores Law (upper line=18 months; lower line=24 months) For the observation regarding information retrieval, see Mooers Law. ...

Contents

Contrasting workstations and personal computers

SGI O2 Workstation
SGI O2 Workstation
Sony NEWS, 2x 25MHz 68030 processor from early 1990s
Sony NEWS, 2x 25MHz 68030 processor from early 1990s

Workstations and personal computers (PCs) followed different evolutionary paths. Workstations were popular for engineering, science and graphics throughout the 1980s and 1990s, moving the capabilities of larger computers to the desktop; at the same time, PCs were evolving from their hobbyist origins to capable systems for home and office use. Image File history File links SGI_O2. ... Image File history File links SGI_O2. ... An SGI O2 (1996) SGI O2 Workstation The O2 is an entry-level Unix workstation introduced in 1996 by Silicon Graphics (SGI) to replace their earlier Indy series. ... Image File history File links Sony_news. ... Image File history File links Sony_news. ... Sony NEWS workstation: 2x 68030 @ 25mhz, 1280x1024 256-color display The Sony NEWS was a series of BSD-based Unix workstations sold during the late 1980s and early 1990s. ... Motorola 68030 Processor from a Macintosh IIsi The Motorola 68030 is a 32-bit microprocessor in Motorolas 68000 family. ...


Evolution of the workstation

Workstations were originally derived from lower cost versions of minicomputers such as the VAX line, which in turn had been designed to offload smaller compute tasks from the very expensive mainframe computers of the time. They rapidly adopted 32-bit single-chip microprocessors Motorola 68000 series, which were much less expensive than the multi-chip processors prevalent in early minis. Later generation workstations used 32-bit and 64-bit RISC processors, which offered higher performance than the CISC processors used in personal computers. HP2114 minicomputer Minicomputer is a largely obsolete term for a class of multi-user computers which make up the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems (mainframe computers) and the smallest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers). ... VAX is a 32-bit computing architecture that supports an orthogonal instruction set (machine language) and virtual addressing (i. ... For other uses, see Mainframe. ... Motorola Inc. ... The Motorola 680x0/0x0/m68k/68k/68K family of CISC microprocessor CPU chips were 32-bit from the start, and were the primary competition for the Intel x86 family of chips in personal computers of the 1980s and early 1990s. ... Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC), is a microprocessor CPU design philosophy that favors a smaller and simpler set of instructions that all take about the same amount of time to execute. ... A Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) is an instruction set architecture (ISA) in which each instruction can indicate several low-level operations, such as a load from memory, an arithmetic operation, and a memory store, all in a single instruction. ...


Workstations also ran the same multiuser/multitasking operating systems that minicomputers used, most commonly Unix. They also used networking to connect to larger computers for engineering analysis and design visualization. The much lower costs relative to minicomputers and mainframes allowed greater overall productivity for many companies that relied on powerful computers for technical computing work, since individual users now each had a machine to themselves for small to medium size tasks, thereby freeing up larger computers for batch jobs.


Evolution of the PC

Personal computers, in contrast to workstations, were not designed to bring minicomputer performance to an engineer's desktop, but instead were originally intended for hobbyist/home use or office productivity applications; price sensitivity was a primary consideration. The first personal computers used 8-bit single-chip microprocessors, especially the MOS Technology 6502 and Zilog Z80 processors, in the early days of the Apple II, Atari 800, Commodore 64 and TRS-80. The introduction of the IBM PC in 1981, based on Intel's x86 processor design, eventually changed the industry, with most desktop computers that were not PC clones falling by the wayside. Apple was the lone holdout, opting instead to move first to the Motorola 68000 and then to the PowerPC processor line, but has now also migrated to x86-based systems. This de facto standardization means some software dating back over 20 years can still be run on current PCs, although operating system variations can often make it difficult to run software tied to an earlier specific OS release. The MOS Technology 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor designed by MOS Technology in 1975. ... One of the first Z80 microprocessors manufactured; the date stamp is from June 1976. ... The Apple II was one of the most popular personal computers of the 1980s. ... Atari built a series of 8-bit home computers based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU, starting in 1979. ... The Commodore 64 is the best-selling single personal computer model of all time. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... IBM PC (IBM 5150) with keyboard and green screen monochrome monitor (IBM 5151), running MS-DOS 5. ... x86 or 80x86 is the generic name of a microprocessor architecture first developed and manufactured by Intel. ... One of the first PCs from IBM - the IBM PC model 5150. ... The Motorola 68000 is a 32-bit CISC microprocessor core designed and marketed by Freescale Semiconductor (formerly Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector). ... PowerPC is a RISC microprocessor architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM. Originally intended for personal computers, PowerPC CPUs have since become popular embedded and high-performance processors as well. ... De facto is a Latin expression that means in fact or in practice. It is commonly used as opposed to de jure (meaning by law) when referring to matters of law or governance or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without...


PC operating systems were originally single tasking; early OSes such as CP/M, TRS-DOS, Apple DOS and MS-DOS only supported running one program at a time. Both Microsoft Windows and Apple's OSes evolved to support co-operative multitasking and then pre-emptive multitasking; in addition, Unix and Unix-like operating system releases for PCs have been on the market for some time. CP/M was an operating system originally created for Intel 8080/85 based microcomputers by Gary Kildall of Digital Research, Inc. ... TRS-DOS (which stood for the Tandy Radio Shack - Disk Operating System) was the operating system for the Tandy TRS-80 line of 8-bit Z-80 micro-computers that were sold through Radio Shack through the late 1970s and early 1980s. ... Beneath Apple DOS was a popular guide to Apple DOS. Apple DOS refers to operating systems for the Apple II series of microcomputers from 1978 through early 1983. ... Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ... Diagram of the relationships between several Unix-like systems A Unix-like operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification. ...


Examples of the first workstations

The Xerox Alto minicomputer, first to use a graphical user interface with mouse and origin of ethernet.
The Xerox Alto minicomputer, first to use a graphical user interface with mouse and origin of ethernet.

Perhaps the first computer that might qualify as a "workstation" was the IBM 1620, a small scientific computer designed to be used interactively by a single person sitting at the console. It was introduced in 1959. One peculiar feature of the machine was that it lacked any actual arithmetic circuitry. To perform addition, it required a memory-resident table of decimal addition rules. This saved on the cost of logic circuitry, enabling IBM to make it inexpensive. The machine was code-named CADET, which some people waggishly claimed meant "Can't Add, Doesn't Even Try". Nonetheless, it rented initially for $1000 a month. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1920x2560, 2058 KB) Summary Photo of the Xerox Alto, taken by Martin Pittenauer, URL accessed May 21, 2006. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1920x2560, 2058 KB) Summary Photo of the Xerox Alto, taken by Martin Pittenauer, URL accessed May 21, 2006. ... A Xerox Alto Computer System The Xerox Alto, developed at Xerox PARC in 1973, was the first personal computer and the first computer to use the desktop metaphor and graphical user interface (GUI). ... A graphical user interface (GUI) is a type of user interface which allows people to interact with a computer and computer-controlled devices which employ graphical icons, visual indicators or special graphical elements called widgets, along with text labels or text navigation to represent the information and actions available to... Ethernet is a large, diverse family of frame-based computer networking technologies that operate at many speeds for local area networks (LANs). ... The IBM 1620 was announced by IBM on October 21, 1959 and marketed as an inexpensive scientific computer. It was withdrawn on November 19, 1970. ...


In 1965, IBM introduced the IBM 1130 scientific computer, which was meant as the successor to the 1620. Both of these systems came with the ability to run programs written in Fortran and other languages. Both the 1620 and the 1130 were built into roughly desk-sized cabinets. Both were available with add-on disk drives, printers, and both paper-tape and punched-card I/O. A console typewriter for direct interaction was standard on each. IBM 1130 Console, restoration in progress. ... Fortran (previously FORTRAN[1]) is a general-purpose[2], procedural,[3] imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. ...


Early examples of workstations were generally dedicated minicomputers; a system designed to support a number of users would instead be reserved exclusively for one person. A notable example was the PDP-8 from Digital Equipment Corporation, regarded to be the first commercial minicomputer. The first computers specifically designed for one user (and so a workstation in the modern sense of the term) were the Lisp machines developed at MIT around 1974. Other early examples include the famous Xerox Star (1981) and the less well known Three Rivers PERQ (1979). A PDP-8 on display at the Smithsonians National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.. This example is from the first generation of PDP-8s, built with discrete transistors and later known as the Straight 8. ... The DEC logo Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering American company in the computer industry. ... The original Lisp machine built by Greenblatt and Knight Lisp machines were general-purpose computers designed (usually through hardware support) to efficiently run Lisp as their main software language. ... The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private, coeducational research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ... The Star workstation, officially known as the 8010 Star Information System, was introduced by Xerox Corporation in 1981. ... PERQ, often referred to as the Three Rivers PERQ, was an influential computer workstation first released in 1979. ...


In the early 1980s, new participants in this field included Apollo Computer and Sun Microsystems, who created Unix-based workstations based on the Motorola 68000 processor. Meanwhile DARPA's VLSI Project created several spinoff graphics products as well, notably the SGI 3130, and Silicon Graphics' range of machines that followed. It was not uncommon to differentiate the target market for the products, with Sun and Apollo considered to be network workstations, while the SGI machines were graphics workstations. This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... The Motorola 68000 is a 32-bit CISC microprocessor core designed and marketed by Freescale Semiconductor (formerly Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector). ... The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. ... DARPAs VLSI Project provided research funding to a wide variety of university-based teams in an effort to improve the state of the art in microprocessor design. ... Silicon Graphics, Inc. ...


Workstations tended to be very expensive, typically several times the cost of a standard PC and sometimes costing as much as a new car. However, minicomputers sometimes cost as much as a house. The high expense usually came from using costlier components that ran faster than those found at the local computer store, as well as the inclusion of features not found in PCs of the time, such as high-speed networking and sophisticated graphics. Workstation manufacturers also tend to take a "balanced" approach to system design, making certain to avoid bottlenecks so that data can flow unimpeded between the many different subsystems within a computer. Additionally, workstations, given their more specialized nature, tend to have higher profit margins than commodity-driven PCs. “Car” and “Cars” redirect here. ... Profit margin is a measure of profitability. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The systems that come out of workstation companies often feature SCSI or Fibre Channel disk storage systems, high-end 3D accelerators, single or multiple 64-bit processors, large amounts of RAM, and well-designed cooling. Additionally, the companies that make the products tend to have very good repair/replacement plans. However, the line between workstation and PC is increasingly becoming blurred as the demand for fast computers, networking and graphics have become common in the consumer world, allowing workstation manufacturers to use "off the shelf" PC components and graphics solutions as opposed to proprietary in-house developed technology. Some "low-cost" workstations are still expensive by PC standards, but offer binary compatibility with higher-end workstations and servers made by the same vendor. This allows software development to take place on low-cost (relative to the server) desktop machines. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A GeForce 4 4200-based graphics card A graphics card or video card is a component of a computer which is designed to convert a logical representation of an image stored in memory to a signal that can be used as input for a display medium, most often a monitor... In computing, a 64-bit component is one in which data are processed or stored in 64-bit units (words). ... “CPU” redirects here. ... Random access memory (usually known by its acronym, RAM) is a type of data storage used in computers. ... It has been suggested that closed source be merged into this article or section. ...


There have been several attempts to produce a workstation-like machine specifically for the lowest possible price point as opposed to performance. One approach is to remove local storage and reduce the machine to the processor, keyboard, mouse and screen. In some cases, these diskless nodes would still run a traditional OS and perform computations locally, with storage on a remote server; in other cases (on machines that would today be described as thin clients), the local device would fill a niche much closer to a terminal than a computer, displaying tasks executing on the remote server. These approaches are intended not just to reduce the initial system purchase cost, but lower the total cost of ownership by reducing the amount of administration required per user. A diskless node (or diskless workstation) is a workstation or personal computer without disk drives, which employs network booting to load its operating system from a server. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A HP T5700 thin client, with flash memory A Neoware m100 thin client. ... A computer terminal is an electronic or electromechanical hardware device that is used for entering data into, and displaying data from, a computer or a computing system. ... It has been suggested that Life cycle cost analysis be merged into this article or section. ...


This approach was actually first attempted as a replacement for PCs in office productivity applications, with the 3Station by 3Com as an early example; in the 1990s, X terminals filled a similar role for technical computing. Sun has also introduced "thin clients", most notably its Sun Ray product line. However, traditional workstations and PCs continue to drop in price, which tends to undercut the market for products of this type. The 3Station was a diskless workstation, developed by Bob Metcalfe at 3Com and first available in 1986. ... 3Com (NASDAQ: COMS) is a manufacturer best known for its computer network infrastructure products. ... In computing, the X Window System (commonly X11 or X) is a windowing system for bitmap displays. ... A HP T5700 thin client, with flash memory A Neoware m100 thin client. ... The Sun Ray was introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1999 as a thin-client solution aimed at corporate environments. ...


What makes a workstation?

Consumer products such as PCs (and even game consoles) today use components that are often at or near the cutting edge of technology; this makes the decision of whether or not to purchase a workstation much less clear-cut for many organizations than it had been in the past. Sometimes these systems are still required, but many places opt for the less expensive, if more fault-prone, PC-level hardware. The Nintendo GameCube is an example of a popular video game console. ...


It is instructive to take a detailed look at the history of specific technologies which once differentiated workstations from personal computers. The modern reader might be amused at what was considered the target for a high-end workstation in the early 1980s, the so-called "3M computer": a Megabyte of memory, a Megapixel display (roughly 1000x1000), and a "MegaFLOPS" compute performance (at least one million floating point instructions per second).[1] As limited as this seems today, it was at least an order of magnitude beyond the capacity of the personal computer of the time; the original 1981 IBM PC had 16 KB memory, a text-only display, and floating-point performance around 1 kiloFLOPS (30 kiloFLOPS with the optional 8087 math coprocessor). Other desirable features not found in desktop computers at that time included networking, graphics acceleration, and high-speed internal and peripheral data buses. 3M was an ideal first proposed in the early 1980s for technical/academic computers: at least a megabyte of memory, a million pixel display and a megaFLOPS processing power. ... ... IBM PC (IBM 5150) with keyboard and green screen monochrome monitor (IBM 5151), running MS-DOS 5. ... The 8087 was the first math coprocessor designed by Intel and it was built to be paired with the Intel 8088 and 8086 microprocessors. ...


(Another goal was to bring the price for such a system down under a "Megapenny", that is, less than $10,000; this was not achieved until the late 1980s.)


The more widespread adoption of these technologies into mainstream PCs was a direct factor in the decline of the workstation as a separate market segment:

  • High performance CPUs: while RISC in its early days (early 1980s) offered something like an order-of-magnitude performance improvement over CISC processors of comparable cost, one particular family of CISC processors, Intel's x86, always had the edge in market share and the economies of scale that this implied. By the mid-1990s, x86 CPUs had achieved performance on a parity with RISC (albeit at a cost of greater chip complexity), relegating the latter to niche markets for the most part.
  • Hardware support for floating-point operations: optional on the original IBM PC; remained on a separate chip for Intel systems until the 80486DX processor. Even then, x86 floating-point performance continued to lag behind other processors due to limitations in its architecture. Today even low-price PCs now have performance in the gigaFLOPS range, but higher-end systems are preferred for floating-point intensive tasks.
  • Large memory configurations: PCs were originally limited to a 640K memory capacity until the 1982 introduction of the 80286 processor; early workstations provided access to several megabytes of memory. Even after PCs broke the 640K limit, special programming techniques were required to address significant amounts of memory, as opposed to other 32-bit processors such as SPARC which provided straightforward access to nearly their entire 4 GB memory address range. 64-bit workstations and servers supporting an address range far beyond 4 GB have been available since the mid-1990s, a technology just beginning to appear in the PC desktop and server market in the mid-2000s.
  • Operating system: early workstations ran the Unix operating system (OS) or a Unix-like variant or equivalent such as VMS. The PC CPUs of the time had limitations in memory capacity and memory access protection, making them unsuitable to run OSes of this sophistication, but this, too, began to change in the late 1980s as PCs with 32-bit CPUs and integrated MMUs became widely affordable.
  • High-speed networking (10 Mbit/s or better): 10 Mbit/s network interfaces were commonly available for PCs by the early 1990s, although by that time workstations were pursuing even higher networking speeds, moving to 100 Mb/s, 1 Gb/sec, and 10 Gb/sec. However, economies of scale and the demand for high speed networking in even non-technical areas has dramatically decreased the time it takes for newer networking technologies to reach commodity price points.
  • Large displays (17"-21") and screen resolutions: common among PCs by the late 1990s.
  • High-performance 3D graphics hardware: this started to become increasingly popular in the PC market around the mid-to-late 1990s, mostly driven by computer gaming.
  • High performance/high capacity data storage: early workstations tended to use proprietary disk interfaces until the emergence of the SCSI standard in the mid-1980s. Although SCSI interfaces soon became available for PCs, they were comparatively expensive and tended to be limited by the speed of the PC's ISA peripheral bus (although SCSI did become standard on the Apple Macintosh). SCSI is an advanced controller interface which is particularly good where the disk has to cope with multiple requests at once. This makes it suited for use in servers, but its benefits to desktop PCs which mostly run single-user operating systems are less clear. These days, with desktop systems acquiring more multi-user capabilities (and the increasing popularity of Linux), the new disk interface of choice is Serial ATA, which has throughput comparable to SCSI but at a lower cost.
  • Extremely reliable components: this may remain the distinguishing feature of a workstation today. Although most technologies implemented in modern workstations are also available at lower cost for the consumer market, finding good components and making sure they work compatibly with each other is a great challenge in workstation building. Because workstations are designed for high-end tasks such as weather forecasting, video rendering, and game design, it's taken for granted that these systems must be running under full-load, non-stop for several hours or even days without issue. Any off-the-shelf components can be used to build a workstation, but the lifespans of such components under such rigorous conditions are questionable. For this reason, almost no workstations are built by the customer themselves but rather purchased from a vendor such as BOXX, EUROCOM, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems, SGI or Dell.
  • Tight integration between the OS and the hardware: Workstation vendors both design the hardware and maintain the Unix operating system variant that runs on it. This allows for much more rigorous testing than is possible with an operating system such as Windows. Windows requires that 3rd party hardware vendors write compliant hardware drivers that are stable and reliable. Also, minor variation in hardware quality such as timing or build quality can affect the reliability of the overall machine. Workstation vendors are able to ensure both the quality of the hardware, and the stability of the operating system drivers by validating these things in-house, and this leads to a generally much more reliable and stable machine.

These days, workstations have changed greatly. Since many of the components are now the same as those used in the consumer market, the price differential between workstations and consumer PCs is correspondingly much narrower than it once was. For example, some low-end workstations use CISC based processors like the Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 as their CPUs. Higher-end workstations still use more sophisticated CPUs such as the Intel Xeon, AMD Opteron, IBM POWER, MIPS or Sun's UltraSPARC, and run a variant of Unix, delivering a truly reliable workhorse for computing-intensive tasks. (PA-RISC and Alpha CPUs are still sold in workstations but are excluded in the above list as they are reaching their end-of-life soon.) “CPU” redirects here. ... A Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) is an instruction set architecture (ISA) in which each instruction can indicate several low-level operations, such as a load from memory, an arithmetic operation, and a memory store, all in a single instruction. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... x86 or 80x86 is the generic name of a microprocessor architecture first developed and manufactured by Intel. ... The increase in output from Q to Q2 causes a decrease in the average cost of each unit from C to C1. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... The Intel i486 (also called 486 or 80486) is a range of 32-bit scalar Intel CISC microprocessors which is part of the Intel x86 family of processors. ... The Intel 80286 is an x86-family 16-bit microprocessor that was introduced by Intel on February 1, 1982. ... Sun UltraSPARC II Microprocessor Sun UltraSPARC T1 (Niagara 8 Core) SPARC (Scalable Processor Architecture) is a RISC microprocessor instruction set architecture originally designed in 1985 by Sun Microsystems. ... // An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... Diagram of the relationships between several Unix-like systems A Unix-like operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification. ... OpenVMS[1] (Open Virtual Memory System or just VMS) is the name of a high-end computer server operating system that runs on the VAX[2] and Alpha[3] family of computers developed by Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, Massachusetts (DIGITAL was then purchased by Compaq, and is now owned... Protected mode is an operational mode of x86-compatible CPUs of the 80286 series or later. ... 32-bit is a term applied to processors, and computer architectures which manipulate the address and data in 32-bit chunks. ... This 68451 MMU could be used with the Motorola 68010 MMU, short for memory management unit or sometimes called paged memory management unit as PMMU, is a class of computer hardware components responsible for handling memory accesses requested by the CPU. Among the functions of such devices are the translation... For the scientific and engineering discipline studying computer networks, see Computer networking. ... 3D computer graphics are different from 2D computer graphics in that a three-dimensional representation of geometric data is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The first Macintosh computer, introduced in 1984, upgraded to a 512K Fat Mac. The Macintosh or Mac, is a line of personal computers designed, developed, manufactured, and marketed by Apple Computer. ... This article is about operating systems that use the Linux kernel. ... First generation (1. ... The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), commonly known as HP, is a very large, global company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. ... For other uses, see IBM (disambiguation) and Big Blue. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... Silicon Graphics, Inc. ... Dell Inc. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... The Pentium 4[1] brand refers to Intels mainstream desktop and mobile single-core CPUs (introduced on November 20, 2000[2]) with the seventh-generation NetBurst architecture, which was the companys first all-new design since the Intel P6 of the Pentium Pro branded CPUs of 1995. ... Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ... The Athlon 64 is an eighth-generation, AMD64 architecture microprocessor produced by AMD, released on September 23, 2003. ... This article is about the Intel microprocessor. ... The AMD Opteron was the AMDs x86 server processor line, and the first processors to implement the AMD64 (also known as x86-64) instruction set architecture. ... POWER is a RISC instruction set architecture designed by IBM. The name is a acronym for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC. POWER is also the name of a series of microprocessors that implements the instruction set architecture. ... MIPS Technologies, formerly MIPS Computer Systems, is most widely known for developing the MIPS architecture and a series of pioneering RISC CPUs. ... SPARC (Scalable Processor ARChitecture) is a RISC microprocessor architecture originally designed in 1985 by Sun Microsystems. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ...


Some workstations are designed for use with only one specific application such as AutoCAD, Avid Xpress Studio HD, 3D Studio Max, etc. To ensure compatibility with the software, purchasers usually ask for a certificate from the software vendor. The certification process makes the workstation's price jump several notches but for professional purposes, reliability is more important than the cost. AutoCAD is a suite of CAD software products for 2- and 3-dimensional design and drafting, developed and sold by Autodesk, Inc. ... AVID (meaning Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a college-preparatory program designed to aid economically disadvantaged, and academically average first-generation students of both elementary and high schools into college. ... 3D Studio Max (name changed to 3DS Max, also sometimes called 3dsm, or just Max) is a 3D modeler developed by Autodesk Media & Entertainment (formerly known as Discreet and Kinetix). ...


Workstation class PCs

A significant segment of the desktop market are computers expected to perform as workstations, but using PC operating systems and components. PC component manufacturers will often segment their product line, and market premium components which are functionally similar to the cheaper "consumer" models but feature a higher level of robustness and/or performance. Notable examples of this are the Xeon and Opteron CPUs, and the Quadro line of video processors. This article is about the Intel microprocessor. ... The AMD Opteron was the AMDs x86 server processor line, and the first processors to implement the AMD64 (also known as x86-64) instruction set architecture. ... What is Quadro? Quadro is a new robust mid-level programming language created by three computer scientists; Dr Darren Davies, MA Jamie Cameron, MA Simon Garner. ...


A workstation class PC may have some of the following features:

  • support for ECC memory
  • a larger number of memory sockets which use registered (buffered) modules
  • multiple processors
  • multiple displays
  • run a "business" or "professional" operating system version

List of workstations and manufacturers

Note that many of these are extinct.

The 3Station was a diskless workstation, developed by Bob Metcalfe at 3Com and first available in 1986. ... Alienware is an American computer hardware company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dell Computer Corporation. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Apple Inc. ... The A3000UX is a model of the Amiga computer family that was released with Commodore Amiga Unix installed instead of AmigaOS, a full port of AT&T Unix System V Release 4. ... The Ardent Computer Corporation was a graphics minicomputer manufacturing company, one of a very few 3rd parties to base their designs on the MIPS CPUs and the associated MIPS OS, using additional Intel i860s as graphics co-processors. ... The Atari Transputer Workstation (also known as ATW-800, or simply ATW) was a workstation class computer released by Atari in the late 1980s. ... Callan Data Systems Inc. ... Unistar was a registered trademark (US) for a line of UNIX workstations in the 1980s manufactured by Callan Data Systems. ... Core Hardware Systems, LP, is a computer hardware company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. ... Computervision, Inc. ... The Datamax UV-1 was a pioneering computer designed by a group of computer graphics artists working at the University of Illinois, known as the Circle Graphics Habitat. ... Dell Inc. ... The DEC logo Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering American company in the computer industry. ... Evans & Sutherland is a computer firm involved in the computer graphics field. ... The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), commonly known as HP, is a very large, global company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. ... For other uses, see IBM (disambiguation) and Big Blue. ... Intergraph was founded in 1969 as M&S Computing, Inc. ... Lilith is the name of custom built workstation (originating sometimes before 1980) using the AMD 2901 bit-slice processor by the group of Niklaus Wirth at ETH Zürich. ... A MIPS Magnum 3000 (RC3230) The MIPS Magnum was a line of computer workstations designed by MIPS Computer Systems, Inc. ... For other meanings, see Next. ... Silicon Graphics, Inc. ... Sony NEWS workstation: 2x 68030 @ 25mhz, 1280x1024 256-color display The Sony NEWS was a series of BSD-based Unix workstations sold during the late 1980s and early 1990s. ... Stardent Inc. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... The ICON was a computer built specifically for use in schools, to fill a standard created by the Ontario education ministry. ... The Star workstation, officially known as the 8010 Star Information System, was introduced by Xerox Corporation in 1981. ...

Footnote

  1. ^ RFC 782 defined the workstation environment more generally as hardware and software dedicated to serve a single user, and that it provide for the use of additional shared resources.

See also

This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... “GFDL” redirects here. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Yale University Library: Policies Governing Use of and Access to Public Workstations (659 words)
Other researchers have access to at least one research workstation in each library that is open to the general public.
When demand for research workstations exceeds supply, other researchers are asked to limit their use of library workstations to those designated as "general use" and "Orbis-only." In addition, priority in the use of library workstations is given to those accessing Orbis and resources that can only be accessed on library research workstations.
The use of library research workstations is subject to the same policies governing the use of other Yale University facilities, including all applicable state and federal laws, copyright restrictions, and license agreements.
What is workstation? - A Word Definition From the Webopedia Computer Dictionary (492 words)
Workstations generally come with a large, high-resolution graphics screen, at least 64 MB (megabytes) of RAM, built-in network support, and a graphical user interface.
Most workstations also have a mass storage device such as a disk drive, but a special type of workstation, called a diskless workstation, comes without a disk drive.
In terms of computing power, workstations lie between personal computers and minicomputers, although the line is fuzzy on both ends.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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