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Mainframes and personal computers

Mainframes are large and costly computers used by government institutions and big companies for large scale computing purposes, mission critical applications, mass data processing and financial transaction processing (Wikipedia, 2009; TechTarget, n. d. ). Since it is expensive, the continually evolving general purpose computing platform is manufactured by a large company such as IBM and associated with centralized rather than distributed computing (Waters, n. d; FFIEC, n. d.).

A personal computer or PC is a general purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and cost make it useful for individuals and which is intended to be operated directly by an end user with no intervening computer operator (Wikipedia, 2009). Today, a PC may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer or a tablet computer and it is commonly found at homes, schools, and offices (ibid. ) Differences between mainframes and personal computer The main difference between a mainframe and a PC is size. Since mainframes are often referred to as Big Iron, it is considered to be very heavy, large in size and expensive.

Mainframes are taller and heavier than the average man and it requires a temperature-controlled physical environment (Experts Exchange, 2009). Normally, access to these computers is limited to authorized personnel as they are strictly maintained by in-house computer specialist or by a third party under contracts (ibid. ). A personal computer is portable, light in weight and inexpensive. It can easily be purchased in computer stores and its parts or components such as graphic card, sound card, memory, modem or hard disk drive can be installed or replaced by people with little or no training in computer.

Since PCs are reasonably priced, simple to operate and do not require a special environment, it is now common to see people of all ages and professions using desktop, laptop, or notebook computers in commercial areas, business establishments, schools and homes. Today, desktop computers are equipped with processors that improve execution speed and efficiency and allow completion of instructions simultaneously while using less power consumption. At 3.

16 GHz, the Intel’s Core 2 Duo E8500 can process at an additional speed of 1666 MHz and allows users to perform heavy simultaneous multitasking such as video editing, gaming, photo editing, and other office application. While PCs processors are impressive, in terms of speed and performance, the IBM mainframes speed is unmatchable as this can run at 25 to 17,801 MIPS (State University, n. d. ). The CPU mainframe speed is measured in millions of instructions per second (MIPS).

Mainframe system supports sophisticated operating systems such as UNIX, Linux and VMS and IBM operating systems like Z/OS, Z/VM, and VSE/ESA and it also has the ability to run or host multiple operating systems not as a single computer but as a number of virtual machines (Execution for System, n. d. ; State University, n. d. ). A personal computer can have more than one operating system (OS) in one machine but only one of those systems can run on the PC at a given time (IBM, 2006) The widely used OS for PC are Linux, Microsoft Windows, BeOS/Zeta, MAC OS, PC-BSD, Unix, and DOS (Freebyte, n.

d. ). In a PC, the processor is connected to input/output (I/O) devices through a combination of hardware parts such as bus, expansion slots and cables and it has a limited number of expansion slots for peripheral devices (IBM, 2006). The mainframe’s I/O subsystem for the IBM System z9 Enterprise Class model includes hardware parts inside and connected to the I/O cages, specialized I/O equipment on the raised floor and the memory bus adapter cards in the book package and the self-timed interrupt cables attached to those cards which has a potential bandwidth of 172 GB per second.

A PC have one or two hard drives with more than 250 Gigabytes of hard drive space each and at least 1 GB of RAM while mainframes have hundreds of hard drives in a sophisticated RAID array with more than 30 Terabytes of storage capacity and have Gigabytes of memory (ibid. ). Mainframes also support thousands of simultaneous users who gain access through any user interface (State University, n. d. ). Conclusion While we are witnessing the continuous improvement of personal computers, its features and capabilities are still incomparable with the mainframe system in terms of speed, reliability, storage capacity, I/O connections and performance.

However, with its size and weight, PCs have the advantage of portability, cost efficiency and user friendly operation. The choice of purchasing mainframes or personal computers will highly depend on the personal, organization or commercial needs. References Execution for System (n. d. ). Mainframe features. Retrieved April 13, 2009 from http://www. exforsys. com/tutorials/mainframe/mainframe-features. html Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s (n. d. ). Mainframe. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://www. ffiec. gov/ffiecinfobase/booklets/operations/22. html Freebyte (n. d. ).

Freebyte’s guide to free and no-free operating systems. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://www. freebyte. com/operatingsystems/ IBM (2006). Mainframe hardware course: mainframe’s processors. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://72. 14. 235. 132/search? q=cache:2LIfqmzOYzoJ:publib. boulder. ibm. com/infocenter/zos/basics/topic/com. ibm. zos. zcourses/zcourses_MFHWprocessors. pdf+PC+vs+mainframe+memory+capacity&cd=11&hl=tl&ct=clnk&gl=ph State University (n. d. ). Mainframe computer description, characteristics, market, history, mainframes vs. supercomputers, statistics, speed and performance.

Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://encyclopedia. stateuniversity. com/pages/14138/mainframe-computer. html TechTarget (n. d. ). Mainframe computers. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://searchdatacenter. techtarget. com/sDefinition/0,,sid80_gci212516,00. html Waters, V. (n. d. ). What is a mainframe? Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://www. mainframes. com/whatis. htm Wikipedia (2009). Mainframe computer. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mainframe_computer Wikipedia (2009). Personal computer. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Personal_computer

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