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.

 

Computer Overview – Short Question Answers

Q1. What is a computer?

Q2. Define and distinguish between data and information.

Q3. Briefly explain the significance of Input-Process-Output Cycle.

Q4. Briefly explain the basic architecture of a computer.

Q5. What do you understand by input unit? What is its significance? What does computer input consist of?

Q6. What is the function of CPU in a computer system? What are its subunits?

Q7. What functions are performed by the control unit? Can we call it the control centre of computer system? Why?

Q8. What functions are performed by the ALU? Is it an independent unit? If not, which unit does ALU work in coordination with?

Q9. Distinguish between Input unit and Output unit.

Q10. Distinguish between CPU and ALU.

Q11. What is the function of output unit in a computer system? Give example of some output devices.

Q12. What role does memory play in the functioning of computer system?

Q13. What is a bit? What is binary code?

Q14. Define each of the following:

(a) nibble

(b) byte

(c) kilobyte

(d) megabyte

(e) gigabyte

(f) terabyte.

Q15. What is the meaning of the term volatile primary memory? What can be done to overcome the problems of volatility?

Q16. Distinguish between internal and external memory.

Q17. Draw a block diagram of the main units of a computer hardware system.

Q18. What are the differences between hardware, software and firmware?

Q19. What are the software classifications? Discuss their functioning in brief.

Q20. What is the binary system used in the computers?

Q21. What is the difference between system software and application software?

Q22. How are human compared with respect to speed and capacity of information processing?

Q23. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using computers?

Q24. Explain briefly the major innovations of

(i) first generation computers,

(ii) second generation computers,

(iii) third generation computers,

(iv) fourth generation computers?

Q25. What is the Von Neumann architecture? Did it influence the making of computers? How?

Q26. Describe the stored-program concept and explain how it changed computer processing.

Q27. How are the computers of four different generations superior as compared to their previous models?

Q28. How are computers classified? How are they different from one another?

Q29. How is the microcomputer different from the other computers?

Q30. What are the four different types of computers based on their working methods?

Q31. Identify and discuss characteristics and uses of

(a) Minicomputers

(b) Mainframe computers, and

(c) Supercomputers.

Q32. Compare microcomputers with minicomputers and mainframe in terms of size, cost and capabilities.

Q33. List at least three advantages of computer data processing over manual methods.

Q34. What do you understand by the term ‘Super Computers’? Give the name of a supercomputer installed in India.

Q35. How are digital, analog and hybrid computers different from one another?