Computers can be broadly classified by their size, speed and computing power.
|1||PC (Personal Computer)||It is a single user computer system having moderately powerful microprocessor|
|2||Workstation||It is also a single user computer system, similar to personal computer however has a more powerful microprocessor.|
|3||Mini Computer||It is a multi-user computer system, capable of supporting hundreds of users simultaneously.|
|4||Main Frame||It is a multi-user computer system, capable of supporting hundreds of users simultaneously. Software technology is different from minicomputer.|
|5||Supercomputer||It is an extremely fast computer, which can execute hundreds of millions of instructions per second.|
A PC can be defined as a small or microcomputer, relatively inexpensive. These systems are designed to serve single user at a time. PCs work on the microprocessor technology where the entire CPU is kept on one processor. Business organizations use personal computers for word processing, accounting, desktop publishing, and for running spreadsheet and database management applications. These computes mainly reside a home. Children use these personal computers for playing games and surfing the Internet.
Although personal computers are designed as single-user systems, these systems are normally linked together to form a network. These are also called desktop computers as they are placed on a desk to develop good coordination between the computer and the user. In terms of power, now-a-days high-end models of the Macintosh and PC offer the same computing power and graphics capability as low-end workstations by Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell.
Workstation is a computer mainly concerned in engineering applications (CAD/CAM), desktop publishing, software development, and other such types of applications which require more amount of computing power and relatively high quality graphic capabilities.
Workstations generally provide with a large, high-resolution graphics screen, large amount of RAM, inbuilt network support, and a graphical user interface. Most of the workstations have mass storage device called disk drive, but a special type of workstation, called diskless workstations are without a disk drive.
Common operating systems works for workstations are UNIX and Windows NT. Like PC, workstations are also single-user computers like PC but they are typically linked together to form a local-area network, although they can also be used as stand-alone systems.
It is a midsize multi-processing system which is capable of supporting up to 250 users simultaneously. These are more powerful than micro-computer.
Mainframe computers are very large in size and powerful. It is an expensive computer which is capable of supporting hundreds or even thousands of users simultaneously. Mainframes aim to execute huge amount of external data accessed from the databases which includes simple calculations. They are mostly used in large organizations like banks, insurance companies and government sectors.
Supercomputers are one of the fastest computers currently available. Supercomputers are very expensive and are capable of working at high speeds. These are structured to support very complicated and complex calculations that are processed and stored in the memory. They are employed for specialized applications that require immense amount of mathematical calculations (number crunching).
For example, weather forecasting, scientific simulations, (animated) graphics, fluid dynamic calculations, nuclear energy research, electronic design, and analysis of geological data (e.g. in petrochemical prospecting).
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