Server vs. Workstation


What is a server? A server is an application or device that performs service for connected clients as part of client server architecture. It can also be a computer system that has been designated for running a specfic server application. A server can also serve applications to users on an intranet.

What is a workstation? A workstation is a personal computer that is used forhigh end applications such as graphic design, video editing, CAD, 3-D design, or other CPU and RAM intensive programs. A workstation typically has a top of the line, fast processor, multiple hard drives, and a lot of RAM memory. A workstation is marketed by computer manufacturers to professional users, while the server is more of a utility device.

History and Functions

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 31-bit and 64-bit RISC processors, which offered higher performance than the CISC processors used in personal computers.

Operating Systems

The most popular operating systems for servers are FreeBSD, Solaris, and Linux while workstations run on UNIX.

Types of Servers and Workstations

A server can be of many types (ie. application server, web server, etc.) An application server allows users on a network to share applications. A workstation, since are used for specific types can also be various types. Some examples are Sound workstations, video workstations etc. A sound workstation may also be integrated with audio card, synthesizers, and microphones to form a studio, or with digital video connections and hard disc arrays for video editing. A video workstation is used for non-linear digital editing of video.

GUI for Workstations vs. Servers

Workstations have the highest quality graphical user interface with efficient video and audio qualities as they mostly do work related to video/audio editing. On the other hand, a server lacks a GUI and other elaborate audio/video interfaces.


Workstations may be designed for specific tasks, while servers are intended for networking. 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 neccessary. Servers serve the task of connecting the user and generally will have no or single user.

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