Characteristics and Uses of Minicomputers. Mainframe computers, and Supercomputers

Q31. Identify and discuss characteristics and uses of

(a) Minicomputers

(b) Mainframe computers, and

(c) Supercomputers.

Ans(a). Minicomputers

Minicomputers, also called mid-range servers, are more powerful computers than micro-computers in terms of processing power and capabilities. Minicomputers are mainly multiuser systems where many users simultaneously work on the systems. Mini computers possess greater storage capacity and larger memories as compared to microcomputers. These are even capable of handling more input-output devices.

Examples are: PDP-11, VAX, 7500 MAGNUM etc.


Ans(b). Mainframe Computers

Mainframe computers are designed to handle huge volumes of data and information. These can support more than hundred users at same time. These very large and expensive computers have great processing speeds and very large storage capacity and memory as compared to minicomputers. These computers even possess and work with more than one processor at the same time. Thus one can say these are multiuser, multiprocessor systems. For mainframe computers very sophisticated operating systems are needed to control and supervise their operation.

Examples are: ICL39, CDC 6600, VAX 8842, IBM 3090/600, IBM4381.


Ans(c). Supercomputers

Super computers are the most powerful computers among digital computers. These consist of several processors running together thereby making them immensely faster and powerful. These computers are capable of handling huge amounts of calculations that are beyond human capabilities. Super computers can perform billions of instructions per second. Some of the today’s super computers have the computing capability equal to that of 40,000 micro computers. A Japanese super-computer has calculated the value of Pi (π) to 16 million decimal places. These are mainly used in application like weather forecasting, nuclear science research, aerodynamic modeling, seismology, metrology etc.

Examples are: CRAY X-MP-14, CDC-205, ETA GF-10, FUJITSU VP-400, NEC SX-2, PARAM, PACE.


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