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Old 12-01-2013, 04:28 PM   #1
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"Desktop" or "Workstation"


Just an infromal question as to where does the "Desktop" end and "Workstation" start?
For example, my Desktop is a FX-8120 with 16GB of RAM, a few hard drives and an nVIDIA GT 640. I know it's no supercomputer, and it's getting old, but is it a "Workstation"?
I'm not trying to start a "my hardware is better" or anything like that but I'm curious as to what construes a "Workstation".
 
Old 12-01-2013, 05:55 PM   #2
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Desktop and Workstation are synonyms.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:01 PM   #3
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Perhaps it's a deprecated term?
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sag47 View Post
Desktop and Workstation are synonyms.
IMHO, I don't think those are synonyms - they carry different connotations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workstation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_computer

I think the key dividing factor is not the horsepower but intended use.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
Perhaps it's a deprecated term?
I wouldn't say deprecated. I would say interchangeable like any synonym.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:07 PM   #6
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Hi,

Today most Workstations can be considered Desktops. Interchangeable definition by some since not all Desktops are equivalent to say SUN or IBM workstations of old.

This interchangeable definition is partly due to the newer hardware as compared to x86 of old being compared to RISC. At the time the RISC based station would have better graphics, larger media storage and with more local memory than a x86 Desktop. Servers for the Workstation would be used to service and provide extended operations. At one time we would process then run on a Cray Supercomputer. Of course the modeling jobs were done on the Cray but processed on the RISC based Workstation.

After newer Pentium x86 platforms we would eliminate the load on the Workstations by process on the Desktop then presented to the Cray platform then processed/modeled on the Workstation because that architecture surpassed the Pentium platform. Therefore the term Workstation and Desktop would be exchanged or interchanged but not always true.

Today most new CAD systems can be used on a Desktops that are equipped properly. Today we can do CFD or most computational intensive operations on a well designed Desktop. If you have ever used a well designed Workstation then you would certainly see the advantages. With today's modern graphics sub-systems, wide memory footprints along with large storage media you can mate with a well equipped motherboard in the Desktop to do some decent modeling or computations that required advanced Supercomputers & RISC based Workstations of old.

Today I consider my Dell XPS Laptop to be a well designed Workstation. More power on this Single Laptop than all of my LAB computers combined in the 90's.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sycamorex View Post
IMHO, I don't think those are synonyms - they carry different connotations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workstation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_computer

I think the key dividing factor is not the horsepower but intended use.
Open any desktop computer or workstation and what do you find? Usually a standard motherboard layout such as ATX, MicroATX, and so on. Standard processor sockets and standard memory buses (e.g. DDR3 RAM) as well as a plethora of other standard parts. My Dell workstation has a MicroATX form factor motherboard, DDR3 RAM 16GB, and a Core i7. My home desktop computer contains similar specs.

They're synonyms if you're referring to computers in the last 5 years; 10 years even (that might be a stretch?).

Last edited by sag47; 12-01-2013 at 06:10 PM.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sag47 View Post
I wouldn't say deprecated. I would say interchangeable like any synonym.
I would ask you to read the links in sycamorex's post and reconsider.
There are connotations to both but I'm willing to consider that, perhaps, all desktops can now be workstations. I say "deprecated" because the use of a term that was once used to denote something different that is now used interchangeably is of no use and, not being mainstream, I'd wonder whether it ought to be deprecated.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:29 PM   #9
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Back in the day, workstations were 32-bit when home computers and general office machines were 16-bit, or 64-bit when PCs were 32-bit. The term denoted a more powerful system with high quality graphics used to run high-end applications like CAD or layout. That distinction disappeared because the high-end apps are now games, so the home computers are now as or more powerful than the work machines. I think the term is dead now.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:37 PM   #10
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But I can pick up a cheap desktop with an i3 or equivalent AMD, built in graphics and a ~500GB hard drive very cheaply but I wouldn't dream of calling it a "workstation".
Perhaps "desktop" is just a form factor? I'd certainly not call my current work PC a workstation.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 07:44 PM   #11
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The difference, in my opinion, is about longevity, reliability, etc. If it's not running a server-grade power supply and motherboard, Opteron or Xeon proc with ECC ram, then it's not a workstation, it's a desktop. While you can use desktop hardware to do "workstation" type jobs, it's still just a desktop, and it's probably going to fail within a few years.

In other words, a desktop uses cheap, consumer-level hardware. While it may be powerful, it won't necessarily be reliable.
A server uses all server grade parts, ECC (usually registered) memory, etc., usually multi-processor, big and expensive.
A workstation is somewhere in the middle. It still uses server-grade hardware, but not nearly as powerful as what you'd put into a dedicated server, and generally with more emphasis on graphics (quadro or firepro).

Just my thoughts on the matter. I don't build "desktops" anymore, I only build servers and workstations (or servers and "mini-servers", as the people above who think that desktops and workstations are synonymous might call them). I've been burned too many times by cheap consumer grade hardware to run it anymore, and to dare call anything running that hardware a "workstation".

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 12-01-2013 at 07:48 PM.
 
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Old 12-01-2013, 07:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suicidaleggroll View Post
The difference, in my opinion, is about longevity, reliability, etc. If it's not running a server-grade power supply and motherboard, Opteron or Xeon proc with ECC ram, then it's not a workstation, it's a desktop. While you can use desktop hardware to do "workstation" type jobs, it's still just a desktop, and it's probably going to fail within a few years.

In other words, a desktop uses cheap, consumer-level hardware. While it may be powerful, it won't necessarily be reliable.
A server uses all server grade parts, ECC (usually registered) memory, etc., usually multi-processor, big and expensive.
A workstation is somewhere in the middle. It still uses server-grade hardware, but not nearly as powerful as what you'd put into a dedicated server, and generally with more emphasis on graphics (quadro or firepro).

Just my thoughts on the matter. I don't build "desktops" anymore, I only build servers and workstations (or servers and "mini-servers", as the people above who think that desktops and workstations are synonymous might call them). I've been burned too many times by cheap consumer grade hardware to run it anymore, and to dare call anything running that hardware a "workstation".
I'm inclined to agree with this. It well and truly makes my system a desktop but, then, it is just cheap consumer stuff despite my use of it.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 08:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
But I can pick up a cheap desktop with an i3 or equivalent AMD, built in graphics and a ~500GB hard drive very cheaply but I wouldn't dream of calling it a "workstation".
Perhaps "desktop" is just a form factor? I'd certainly not call my current work PC a workstation.
In what way are you using the term form factor? The only way I know is to describe the architecture in a standard way (e.g. ATX form factor). You're not going to see any different architectures in modern workstations than you would in modern desktops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suicidaleggroll View Post
The difference, in my opinion, is about longevity, reliability, etc. If it's not running a server-grade power supply and motherboard, Opteron or Xeon proc with ECC ram, then it's not a workstation, it's a desktop. While you can use desktop hardware to do "workstation" type jobs, it's still just a desktop, and it's probably going to fail within a few years.
I disagree. Computers fail and that's a fact. It doesn't matter what kind of computer. That being said when parts fail in a desktop they can be swapped out easily just like they can in what you claim to be workstations. At any rate this discussion is fast descending into redundancy so I've made my points and likely will stop contributing to the conversation here. For the most part I would just classify it by how it's used but even then I'd still be likely to use the term interchangeably.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 08:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sag47 View Post
I disagree. Computers fail and that's a fact. It doesn't matter what kind of computer.
Yes, they do, but the failure rates are vastly different. It's not just about hard failures either, cheap equipment can spontaneously lock up, memory errors can trigger random reboots, etc. All of which are unacceptable under "workstation" use, which is why that kind of hardware just doesn't belong in that environment in my opinion. Calling it a "workstation" just because it's being used to do work is like calling a toyota camry a pickup truck because you roped some lumber onto the roof.

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 12-01-2013 at 08:07 PM.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 08:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sag47 View Post
In what way are you using the term form factor? The only way I know is to describe the architecture in a standard way (e.g. ATX form factor). You're not going to see any different architectures in modern workstations than you would in modern desktops.
That was my point. Are you suggesting that all computers that sit on a desk in a case are equal?
I see a very compelling case by suicidaleggroll that systems are built with very different components in that same form factor.
If a "Desktop" with a dual-socket, a few PCIE cards and a few TB of storage is the same class as a desktop with a dual core, built-in graphics and ~1GB of RAM then it's the form-factor that groups them and nothing else. As I see it suicidaleggroll makes a very real distinction between machines which, outwardly, may look the same.
 
  


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