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TYPES OF COMPUTERS

Computers are grouped into 4 basic categories according to their size and processing speed.

Microcomputers:
Microcomputers are small computers that can fit on or beside a desktop or are portable and carried from room to room. It used as personnel machine as well as in business. Fully functional microcomputers cost between $500 and about $20000. It is generally use by only one person at a time but can often support more. It uses a chip as its CPU, which is referred to as the microprocessor. This chip is made of silicon. It can be terminal or personnel computer or workstation. Terminals: Often microcomputers are used as terminals connected to a larger computer system in network. A terminal may or may not do processing by it self. However, it provides a keyboard for input and a display screen for output from a computer system. Personal computers (PCs): PCs are desktop, floor-standing, or portable computers that can run easy to use programs such as word processing or spread sheets. PCs come in several sizes, as follows Desktop & Floor-Standing Computers, Luggable Computers, Laptop Computers, Notebook & Sub-notebook computers, Pocket PCs (Electronic organizers, Palmtop Computers, Personal digital assistants), Pen computer. Workstations: workstations look like desktop PCs but are far more powerful. They support applications with heavy mathematical computing and graphics display demands such as computer-aided design in engineering, or investment & portfolio analysis in the securities industry. Some times they are used as a network server. Decline in workstation prices and increase in PC power have altered the differences between workstations and PCs.

Minicomputers:
A minicomputer is a mid range computer, about the size of an office desk. They are midway in cost and capabilities between microcomputers and mainframes. They can be used either as single workstations or as a system tied by network to several hundred terminals for many users. Costing is between $20000 and $250000, which overlap with other categories of computers. It can support 2 to about 50 users and computer professionals. It can work much faster than microcomputers and have many more storage locations in main memory. It is similar to but smaller and less powerful than a mainframe computer. Midrange computers first become popular as minicomputers for scientific research, instrumentation systems, engineering analysis, and industrial process monitoring and control. Many small and mid size companies, universities, factories or research laboratories use minicomputers. Minicomputers also become popular as powerful network servers to help and manage large Internet Web sites, corporate intranets and extranets, and client / server networks.

Mainframe computers:
A mainframe is the large, fast and powerful computer system, a powerhouse with massive memory and extremely rapid processing power, usually housed in a controlled environment that can support the processing requirements of hundreds and often thousands of users and computer professionals. It may cost from $50000 to $10 million. It is smaller and less powerful than super computers. Professional programmers and technicians in a centrally managed department typically operate such machines. It is used for very large commercial, scientific, or military applications where a computer must handle massive amount of data or many complicated processes. For example in airline, a bank, a large university, or the social security administration, you may have contact- through your individual workstation- with a mainframe computer.

Supercomputers:
A supercomputer is a highly sophisticated and powerful machine that is used for tasks requiring extremely rapid and complex calculations with hundreds of thousands of variable factors. It is the fastest calculating device ever invented. It may be about 50000 times faster than a microcomputer and may cost from $225000 to more than $30 million. Supercomputers use parallel processing architectures of interconnected microprocessors (which can execute many instructions at the same time in parallel.) They used in defense, weather forecasting, scientific research, large universities, or for the national aeronautics and space administration.

MICROCOMPUTER Main (RAM) Memory Storage capacity Processing Speed Cost Example 512 KB 128 MB

MINICOMPUTER 8 MB 2 GB

MAINFRAM 50 MB to over 2 GB 50 GB and above 30 MIPS and up $50000 and up


IBM S/390 Parallel Enterprise Server

SUPERCOMPUTER 128 MB to over 20 GB

Up to 40 GB 80000-10,000,000 instructions / second $500 to $20000 Compaq Prolinea Model 4633

40 GB and above 8-40 Million of instructions/second $20000 to $250,000 DEC Alpha Server Model 2100

No Limitation 200 MIPS and up $225,000 and up Cray T90, Param

Complied by: Alok Bansal (Lecturer, SOE, IPS Academy, Indore) References: Computer & Information Systems by Hutchinson / Sawyer Management Information System by K. C. Laudon and J. P. Laudon And by James A. OBrien