In general, the processing power of a computer is determined by its size. Larger computers have faster processing speeds, while smaller computers have a better personal computing experience.
The size of a computer can be divided into four categories: Micro, Mini, Mainframe, and Supercomputer.
Supercomputers are extremely powerful computers capable of manipulating huge amounts of data in a relatively short time.
They are often housed in protective rooms with special cooling systems, power protection, and other security features. They have a large memory capacity and can perform complex scientific calculations very rapidly. And the size of a supercomputer is big.
- Supercomputers are machines that have multiple processors, often functioning in parallel (simultaneously).
- The speed of a supercomputer is generally measured in “FLOPS” (Floating Point Operations Per Second).
- It has the ability to support several GB’s of RAM.
- Supercomputers are used primarily for scientific and engineering work such as aerodynamic design and simulation, processing of geological data.
Examples of supercomputers are CRAY-2, SX-2, IBM ASCI White, etc.
The size of Mainframe computers is the second largest, expensive, and ultra-fast computers. They have huge memory and extremely rapid processing power.
A mainframe computer can support hundreds or thousands of connected users and execute many programs simultaneously. They act as the central host computer in distributed data processing systems.
Mainframe computers are mainly employed in large organizations for various applications, including bulk data processing, process control, industry, consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and financial transaction processing.
Examples of mainframe computers are IBM 4300 series, HP 9000, VAX 8842, CDC 6600, etc.
Minicomputer is of medium-scale size built to perform complex computations. They have multiuser system where many users simultaneously work on the system.
They have a slow operating speed, smaller backing storage, limited hardware, and lesser memory capacity compared to a mainframe computer.
Minicomputers are used in medium-sized organizations for the processing of payrolls and financial accounts, cost handling, sales analysis, and production planning.
They are commonly used as a server in a network environment that handles the data-sharing needs of other computers on the network.
Examples of minicomputers are PDP (Programming Data Processor)-11, VAX (Virtual Address eXtension)7500, Interdata 8/32, etc.
The microcomputer is a small digital computer whose central processing unit consists of a microprocessor (a single semiconductor integrated circuit chip).
Microcomputers are designed for use by one person at a time but nowadays it has become a powerful tool for many businesses that, when networked together, can serve more than one user.
It has a small memory and permits fewer peripherals to be attached. It has excellent graphic capabilities. It is designed for use in homes, schools, and office settings. It is also called a personal computer.
The two popular series of microcomputers are IBM PC and Apple Macintosh.
Microcomputers include the following types: desktop computer, laptop computer, network computer, and handheld personal computer.
The computer is arranged in such a way that the system unit, input devices, output devices, and any other devices fit entirely on or under a desk or table.
There are two models of a desktop computer. They are desktop models and tower models.
- In the desktop model, the system unit is placed horizontally on top of a desk along with the other devices.
- In the tower model, the system unit is placed on the floor Desktop computer is a computer that is designed to stay in a single location.
It is designed is generally designed on a vertical basis to preserve desk space, allow more room to place external components, such as scanners or printers, on the desk.
A laptop is a battery or AC-powered personal computer that can be easily carried and used in a variety of locations. It is equipped with a built-in keyboard, touchpad, and LCD/LED screen.
It has a smaller display, less memory, and less storage space than a full-sized PC. That means, it is fully functional even when there are no peripherals attached to it.
A laptop is quicker to set up, and there are fewer cables to get in the way.
A computer that is small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand. A small, highly portable, battery-operated computer, used to store personal information, send and receive e-mail or SMS, etc.
A Palmtop PC was a battery-powered device about the size of a pocket calculator that was compatible with the IBM Personal Computer and featured a horizontal clamshell style with integrated keyboard and monitor or Touchscreen.