Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer

Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer

Micro , MINI, Mainframe,  and   Super computer


Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer

Different Types of Computers are covered in this Blog

  1. Micro Computers:

The smallest among them are micro computers. They are small in physical size (most of them are desktop system; however, notebook micro computers that can fit into a briefcase are also available). They are economical in terms of costs and are friendly in use. Personal com­puters (PCs) fall into this category.


These computers can be used for small data processing jobs of bigger companies or serve as complete computer systems for small firms. PC can also be connected with bigger computers and be used as an intelligent terminal to a bigger computer. The details regarding their applications in business are included in the last section of this article.


  1. Mini computers:

Mini computers are very popular among medium sized compa­nies. Mini computers offer facilities for faster processing of volumi­nous information. Mini computers, of course, are bigger than micro­computers but smaller than most of their elders called mainframes.


They cost somewhere between Rs. 5 to 15 lac depending upon the configuration. However, these prices are only indicative and are sub­ject to substantial changes over time. The mini computers like VAX 8000 series from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and AS/400 series from IBM have been quite popular in computer aided manu­facturing, as well as departmental computers.

They have also been used extensively as gateways between mainframe networks and as main servers for local area networks of microcomputers.

Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer
Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer
  1. Mainframes:

Mainframes are bigger computers, capable of handling data processing needs of, say, head office of a bank, or a big multinational company or may be a public utility office. Mainframe computer sys­tems have larger storage and the speed of processing is also very high.

They also offer the advantage of wider choice with regard to up-gradation of the system in future. They offer features such as par­allel processing. The parallel processing involves combining a large number of processors that break down an application into many sepa­rate parts in order to enhance processing speed.

The speed of process­ing is expressed in terms of 10 to 100 millions of instructions per second (MIPS), and cost somewhere between 1 to 5 million dollars depending upon the configuration. IBM still holds almost 80 per cent of mainframe market with its popular mainframe series IBM Sys­tem 390.

The mainframe popularity has fallen due to emergence of micro computers and popularity of client server technology. How­ever, they still find niche markets in large volume data processing requirements such as central database servers.

Super computers are on the higher end of mainframe comput­ers. They offer tremendous computing power and are being used primarily in scientific research and forecasting. For example, Cray T3E-900 series of computers are packed with computing powers that are incomparable to any big mainframe.


  1. Supercomputers:

Supercomputers have a speed of between 100 to 900 MIPS. They are quite expensive and cost somewhere around 10-30 million dollars depending upon the configuration. The other competitors of Cray supercomputers are machines from NEC of Japan.


The above differences are primarily on the basis of three basic factors, namely,

  1. The primary storage capacity,
  2. Speed of processing data, and
  3.  Ability to support different input, output and mass storage de­vices such as printers, tape drives, etc.

These features are inter-dependent and faster computers will or­dinarily have large memory sizes and shall have facility to use a large number of sophisticated input-output devices. The speed of a computer system depends, partly, on the memory size, and the number and type of input-output devices connected to it. The lines of demar­cation between these categories of computers are very thin.

Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer
Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer

As may be noticed from Fig, there are common areas between two adjoining rectangles. These areas represent the fact that the higher end of smaller computer system may have the capacities equivalent to lower end of bigger computer system.


For example, a highly configured micro computer may be as good as smaller minicomputer. The same is true for a mini computer and the mainframe. Only a few years ago, computers could be distinguished on the ba­sis of amount of primary memory or speed of processing. These bases are no longer valid for classification.


The distinctions are changing and some of them are fast .dying out as a result of advancements in hardware technologies. In each category, the buyer has many configuration options. With increas­ing competition, sellers are falling on one another trying to sell con­figurations as high as possible to push up their revenues.


The innovations like parallel processing using cheaper PC platforms are cut­ting into the mainframe market. Such parallel processing involves combining of hundreds of processors that break down an application into many parts in order to enhance the processing speed.


Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer
Micro , MINI, Mainframe, and Super computer


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