Workstations can come in a wide variety of configurations and specialized packages. However, for the sake of argument, a few industry standardized packages and processors have started to emerge. These machines bring rapid response times, increased capacities, and an overall performance than machines of standard home or small business personal computers. One of the more common standard workstation is the Dell optiplex 680, which offers higher processing speeds, faster transfer rates, supports network capatablilities and is geared for the business environment. However, this workstation still maintains its PC appearance, thus creating a more user friendly interface. This also would save on training and such for end users who would not be as savvy as others, yet still need higher computing power. These units are affordable enough for businesses to be able to purchase them in large quantities and deploy to all end users. From there a company would likely provide a higher end specialized system for users who have a role requiring a more advanced computing capability
Now a day, it is getting more and more common to find a lot of the same components found in workstations to be found in personal PCs too. Many other similarities are evident as well, such as a narrower price gap, performance similarities, and common operating systems. Nonetheless, a workstation is still a faster and more efficient system. This is usually due to a simply higher performing processor fine tuned to a specific purpose. For example, some workstations use complex instruction set computing based processors like the Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 as their central processing unit (CPU). Workstations leaning toward the higher end still utilize more sophisticated CPUs such as the Intel Xeon, IBM POWER, or AMD Opteron, and provide a truly reliable tool for various intensive computing tasks. Higher end workstations do generally tend to be designed for graphics applications.
Many workstations are configured for use with only a particular application such as AutoCAD, 3D Studio Max, etc. These workstations also usually come pre-certified by the software vendor. This solidifies that the system is optimized to run said application. For example, a CAD optimized workstation could incorporate the very latest in hardware and software. These systems contain certified graphics technologies and are efficient enough to eliminate bottlenecks typically found with older computer platforms. This system would also utilize a graphics solution, such as the NVIDIA Quadro FX, geared for AutoCAD. Autodesk has partnered with numerous companies such as NVIDIA, and has vowed to work with system manufacturers to create a better product. These innovative companies recognize the need for optimized systems and as such they have spent thousands of labor hours to test, re-test and then certify the newest graphics cards with AutoCAD, such as the Quadro FX. Many of AutoCAD’s advanced features won’t run optimally without a professional class graphics processing unit. These units provide increased design productivity, unparalleled performance and exceptional visual quality.