Classification of computers can be done based on the size and the data processing abilities of a computer. We can say there is a revolution in the size of computers. For example, a super computer with many processors is capable of doing extreme complex calculations whereas a personal computer with single processor is capable of doing basic computing functions.
Computer System can be broadly classified into four groups, namely: Microcomputer, Minicomputer, Mainframe Computer and Supercomputer.
Micro Computers are most commonly used and least powerful compared to other computer systems. These are fastest growing computer types with a wide variety of models availabale. Type of computers fall into this category are:
1) Desktop Computer: A Desktop computer or personal computer that is sufficient to fix on a desk. It is less expensive and has less data processing capabilities compaered to othe computer systems. These systems are most commonly seen around us.
2) Laptop: This computer is similar to a desktop computers but the size is smaller. These are mobile computers which are easy to carry and use. They are expensive than desktop computers. The weight of laptop is around 3 to 5 kg.
Notebook: These computers are as powerful as desktop but size of these computers are comparatively smaller than laptop and desktop. They weigh 2 to 3 kg. They are more costly than laptop.
Palmtop: They are also called as personal Digital Assistant (PDA). These computers are small in size. They can be held in hands. It is capable of doing word processing, spreadsheets and hand writing recognition, game playing, faxing and paging. These computers are not as powerful as desktop computers.
A minicomputer is a medium-sized computer. That is more powerful than a micro computer with highest processing capability. These computers are usually designed to serve multiple users simultaneously. They are more expensive than microcomputers. Examples: Digital Alpha, Sun Ultra, PDP11 and PDP45.
Computers with large storage capacities and very high speed of processing (compared to mini or micro computers) with large memory capacity are known as mainframe computers. They support a large number of terminals for simultaneous use by a number of users like ATM transactions. Allows networking of upto 100 terminals. They are also used as central host computers in distributed data processing system. Examples: IBM 40, S/390 and PDP 370.
Supercomputers have extremely large storage capacity and computing speeds which are many times faster than other computers. A supercomputer is measured in terms of tens of millions Instructions per second (mips), an operation is made up of numerous instructions. The supercomputer is mainly used for large scale numerical problems in scientific and engineering disciplines such as Weather analysis. Examples: - IBM Deep Blue
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