Another recent addition to the desktop is the graphics workstation. Today, graphics workstations running UNIX offer five to ten times the performance of a typical PC. Like the PC, graphics workstations have exhibited impressive gains in price performance with a doubling of performance for the same price almost every year. The line between UNIX workstations and PCs is, however, becoming somewhat blurred. For several years, Macintosh computers have been capable of running the operating system AUX, which is Apple's version of UNIX. For some time, commercial UNIX operating systems have been available for IBM compatible PCs.
The advent of more powerful PC CPUs, such as the Intel 486, and the availability of a public domain UNIX operating system (LINUX) for this class of machine, signal a closing of the gap between the UNIX workstation class of machine and the increasingly powerful new breeds of PCs. The computational advances over the past twenty years have not been restricted to just the hardware arena. The increase in computational efficiency of many numerical analysis algorithms has been as impressive as increases in hardware computational efficiency. The combined effect of improvements in hardware and algorithms over the past twenty years is roughly a million fold increase in overall computational efficiency. Put another way, many computations that required weeks to perform in 1970 now require only seconds.