The microprocessors used in off-the-shelf workstations double in performance every eighteen months. The Swedish Vacuum Solar Tower (SVST) uses off-the-shelf workstations for all aspects of its on-line telescope control and data acquisition. Since 1995 workstation performance has been adequate for a correlation tracker of solar granulation controlling a tip- tilt corrector. In 2000 workstation performance permits the construction of a 20 - 50 subimage Shack-Hartmann based low- latency adaptive optics system. It is argued that workstations provide a cost-effective, upgradable, low-risk and flexible means of construction of stellar and solar adaptive optics systems. We give an overview of the adaptive optics system installed at the SVST in May 1999. The system uses a bimorph modal mirror with 19 electrodes from Laplacian Optics. For use with extended targets, such as solar fine structure, cross- correlations with 16 X 16-pixel sub-images are used. For use with point sources, a centroiding algorithm is implemented. The work station used is capable of completing all processing required by the adaptive optics system in 0.5 ms (cross-correlations) or 0.3 ms (centroiding), with potential for significant performance improvements.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.