Information Technology

Gartner Glossary

Computing Platform Products

Computing platform products are defined as follows:

 Server systems —The server segment comprises all multiuser systems. Please note that Gartner no longer classifies supercomputers and mainframes as discrete segments. As the technology, use and positioning differentiation between the server segments has eroded, all multiuser systems are now classified as general-purpose servers.
 Workstations — Workstations are single-user systems including high-end, midrange, and entry-level workstations. Workstations are typically high-end complex instruction set computer (CISC), explicitly parallel instruction computing or RISC-based CPU architectures with high-performance graphics, OS and system architecture. In general, workstations must include integrated floating-point processing, integrated networking, a 32-bit or 64-bit multitasking OS, as well as configurations that support high-resolution graphics capabilities and 3D graphics functionality. The workstation market includes traditional Unix workstations, such as Linux and workstations running Windows 2000/XP or other advanced OSs. Gartner classifies workstations by the primary market for which they are designed and bases its data collection on desktops branded as workstations. Systems shipped with Windows Media Center Edition are generally counted as PCs and not included in the workstation category and, because they are not branded as workstations, neither are Apple Macintosh desktops. Examples of x86-based workstations are IBM’s IntelliStation family, Dell Precision Workstations and HP Workstations. Note that the Intel-compatible 32-bit CPU (x86-32) category refers to Intel Architecture (IA)-compatible, x86-based workstations and covers a variety of chipset and processor designs not offered by Intel. Note also that the Itanium processor family of CPUs, such as Itanium2 and 64-bit extensions to CISC architecture, including as AMD’s Opteron- and Athlon64-based workstations, will be listed separately under the titles of IA-64 and (Intel-compatible 64-bit CPU) x86-64, respectively.
 PCs — PCs are single-user systems including x86 (Intel-compatible CPU) server, desk-based and mobile PCs. A PC is a general purpose computer that is distinguished from other computers by its adherence to hardware and software compatibility. This compatibility drives high-unit volumes of commoditylike products that do not require on-site technical support. High-performance features, such as networking, graphics and a virtual multiuser/multitasking OS, are normally optional and not integral system features. IBM/IBM-compatible and Apple PCs are two platforms in this product segment. A single-user PC’s resident OS is typically Windows, Mac OS and Linux. PCs have a performance ceiling that is lower in system compute performance, input/output (I/O) channel speed and disk speed than advanced workstations. Standard graphics are in the 1024 x 768 to 1280 x 1068-pixel range, and optional high-end graphics are limited compared with workstations. Gartner views a PC system as a single unit, which includes a CPU, a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard. Furthermore, Gartner does not include thin-client terminal.

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