A computer is a device that transforms data into meaningful information. It processes the input according to the set of instructions provided to it by the user and gives the desired output. Computers are of various types and they can be categorized in two ways on the basis of size and on the basis of data handling capabilities.
on the basis of size, there are five types of computers:
- Mainframe computer
- PC (Personal Computer)
on the basis of data handling capabilities, there are three types of computer:
- Analogue Computer
- Digital Computer
- Hybrid Computer
Now let us discuss each type of computer in detail:
1. Supercomputer: types of computers
When we talk about speed, then the first name that comes to mind when thinking of computers is supercomputers. They are the biggest and fastest computers(in terms of speed of processing data). Supercomputers are designed such that they can process a huge amount of data, like processing trillions of instructions or data just in a second. This is because of the thousands of interconnected processors in supercomputers. It is basically used in scientific and engineering applications such as weather forecasting, scientific simulations, and nuclear energy research. It was first developed by Roger Cray in 1976.
Characteristics of supercomputers:
- Supercomputers are the computers which are the fastest and they are also very expensive.
- It can calculate up to ten trillion individual calculations per second, this is also the reason which makes it even more faster.
- It is used in the stock market or big organizations for managing the online currency world such as bitcoin etc.
- It is used in scientific research areas for analyzing data obtained from exploring the solar system, satellites, etc.
2. Mainframe computer: types of computers
Mainframe computers are designed in such a way that it can support hundreds or thousands of users at the same time. It also supports multiple programs simultaneously. So, they can execute different processes simultaneously. All these features make the mainframe computer ideal for big organizations like banking, telecom sectors, etc., which process a high volume of data in general.
Characteristics of mainframe computers:
- It is also an expensive or costly computer.
- It has high storage capacity and great performance.
- It can process a huge amount of data (like data involved in the banking sector) very quickly.
- It runs smoothly for a long time and has a long life.
3. Minicomputer: types of computers
Minicomputer is a medium size multiprocessing computer. In this type of computer, there are two or more processors, and it supports 4 to 200 users at one time. Minicomputers are used in places like institutes or departments for different work like billing, accounting, inventory management etc. It is smaller than a mainframe computer but larger in comparison to the microcomputer.
Characteristics of minicomputer:
- Its weight is low.
- Because of its low weight, it is easy to carry anywhere.
- less expensive than a mainframe computer.
- It is fast.
4. Workstation: types of computers
Workstation is designed for technical or scientific applications. It consists of a fast microprocessor, with a large amount of RAM and high speed graphic adapter. It is a single-user computer. It generally used to perform a specific task with great accuracy.
Characteristics of Workstation:
- It is expensive or high in cost.
- They are exclusively made for complex work purposes.
- It provides large storage capacity, with better graphics, and a more powerful CPU when compared to a PC.
- It is also used to handle animation, data analysis, CAD, audio and video creation, and editing.
5. PC (Personal Computer): types of computers
It is also known as a microcomputer. It is basically a general-purpose computer and designed for individual use. It consists of a microprocessor as a central processing unit(CPU), memory, input unit, and output unit. This kind of computer is suitable for personal work such as making an assignment, watching a movie, or at office for office work, etc. For example, Laptops and desktop computers.
Characteristics of PC (Personal Computer):
- In this limited number of software can be used.
- It is smallest in size.
- It is designed for personal use.
- It is easy to use.
6. Analogue Computer:
It is particularly designed to process analogue data. Continuous data that changes continuously and cannot have discrete values is called analogue data. So, an analogue computer is used where we don’t need exact values or need approximate values such as speed, temperature, pressure etc. It can directly accept the data from the measuring device without first converting it into numbers and codes. It measures the continuous changes in physical quantity. It gives output as a reading on a dial or scale. For example speedometer, mercury thermometer, etc.
7. Digital Computer
Digital computer is designed to perform calculations and logical operations at high speed. It accepts the raw data as input in the form of digits or binary numbers (0 and 1) and processes it with programs stored in its memory to produce the output. All modern computers like laptops, desktops including smartphones that we use at home or office are digital computers.
Advantages of digital computers:
- It allows you to store a large amount of information and to retrieve it easily whenever you need it.
- You can easily add new features to digital systems more easily.
- Different applications can be used in digital systems just by changing the program without making any changes in hardware
- The cost of hardware is less due to the advancement in the IC technology.
- It offers high speed as the data is processed digitally.
- It is highly reliable as it uses error correction codes.
- Reproducibility of results is higher as the output is not affected by noise, temperature, humidity, and other properties of its components.
8. Hybrid Computer
Hybrid computer has features of both analogue and digital computer. It is fast like an analogue computer and has memory and accuracy like digital computers. It can process both continuous and discrete data. It accepts analogue signals and convert them into digital form before processing. So, it is widely used in specialized applications where both analogue and digital data is processed. For example, a processor is used in petrol pumps that converts the measurements of fuel flow into quantity and price. Similarly, they are used in airplanes, hospitals, and scientific applications.
Advantages of using hybrid computers:
- Its computing speed is very high due to the all-parallel configuration of the analogue subsystem.
- It produces precise and quick results that are more accurate and useful.
- It has the ability to solve and manage big equation in real-time.
- It helps in the on-line data processing.
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