Fastest RISC workstation ever made?


Mar 14, 2010
RISC workstations (SPARC, alpha, etc.) are no longer made today, now it's x86 only. What was the fastest one ever produced? Was it IBM intellistation 285? Or maybe something from SGI?

It depends on how exactly you define "workstation" and "fastest." You could modify most servers to be a workstation by putting in a graphics card and attaching a keyboard and mouse. Also, "fastest" is pretty nebulous as well, since different CPUs can be the "fastest" in different things.

But if I had to compile a list of fast RISC-based systems, look for things with these CPUs inside:
1. Fujitsu SPARC VIIIfx+. 8 cores, 2-way SMT (16 threads/chip), IMC
2. Itanium 9350. 4 cores, 2-way SMT (8 threads/chip), 1.73/1.86 GHz core, IMC, specFP2006_rate: 68/chip
3. IBM POWER7. 16 cores (2x8 cores in an MCM), 4-way SMT (64 threads/chip), 3.86 GHz, specFP2006_rate: 293/chip

Compare that to:
- AMD Opteron 2439SE. 6 cores, 2.80 GHz, IMC, specFP2006_rate: 74.4/chip
- Intel Xeon W5590. 4 cores, 3.33 GHz, 2-way SMT (8 threads/chip), IMC, specFP2006_rate: 108/chip
- Intel Xeon X7460. 6 cores, 2.67 GHz, specFP2006_rate: 40.7/chip

So I would probably say the fastest "workstation" RISC unit out there would be an IBM POWER 7xx server with one or two of the 8-core CPUs instead of all four.