high-end computer designed for technical and scientific applications or for audio and video processing, mainly characterized by high computing power and large memory

A workstation is a computer used for scientific or technical calculations, or purposes. These computers are usually expensive, high-end computers. They are different from the ordinary computers used for text-processing. Very often they have operating systems that allow several users to work at the computer at the same time. Very often, workstations are connected to a computer network. Computer terminals may be used to access them. Currently, almost all workstations use a unix or unix-like operating system.

A Sun SparcStation 4 running CDE

Workstation computers often use a 64-bit server-class CPU such as the Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron, and some have more than one CPU. They may also have more memory than a normal desktop computer, and they often have 10000 or 15000 RPM hard drives or solid-state drives. Some workstations have devices that are not commonly used on normal desktop computers, such as ECC (error-corrected) memory, SCSI, fibre channel, and 10 gigabit Ethernet.

Some technologies that were once only found on workstations have now become common in normal PCs, such as multi-core processors, solid-state drives, hardware-accelerated graphics, 24-bit color, broadband Internet access, virtual memory, pre-emptive multitasking, and OpenCL.

Common uses for workstations include computer-aided design (CAD), 3D graphics and animation, video and audio production, weather modeling, and other simulations and scientific work.

RISC vs x86


Traditionally, workstations used a RISC processor, such as MIPS, PowerPC, or SPARC architecture CPUs. Most modern workstations use x86_64 processors. In 2020, however, Apple began migrating its product line from x86-64 to Apple M1, an ARM RISC CPU.

Examples of RISC workstations


Examples of modern x86_64 workstations