Types of Computer

Types of Computer

We can categorize computers in three ways: on the basis of data handling capabilities, size, and purpose.

On the basis of data handling capabilities, the computer is of three types:

  • Analogue Computer
  • Digital Computer
  • Hybrid Computer

Analogue Computer

  • Process analog data.
  • Analog data is continuous data that changes continuously in physical quantity and cannot have discrete values.

Ex. speed, temperature, pressure and current etc.

  • Directly accept the data from the measuring device or sensors without converting it into numbers and codes.
  • Examples:-  speedometer and mercury thermometer.

Advantages of using analogue computers:

  • Allows real-time operations.
  • Computation at the same time and continuous representation of all data within the range.
  • Performing calculations without converting the inputs or outputs to digital electronic form and vice versa.

Types of computers

2) Digital Computer

Types of computers

  • Perform calculations and logical operations at high speed.
  • Accepts the raw data as input, process, store, and output in the form of digits or binary numbers (0 and 1).
  • Example: - all modern computers like laptops, desktops, smartphones.

Advantages of digital computers:

  • Store a large amount of information and retrieve it easily.
  • Easily add new features to digital systems.
  • Different applications can be used by changing the program without any changes in hardware.
  • The cost of hardware is less, due to the advancement in the ICs technology.
  • Data is processed digitally at high speed.
  • Highly reliable (uses error correction codes).
  • The output is not affected by noise, temperature, humidity, and other properties of its components.

Hybrid Computer

  • The hybrid computer has features of both analog and digital computers.
  • Fast like an analog computer and has memory and accuracy like digital computers.
  • Process both continuous and discrete data.
  • Accepts analog signals and converts them into digital form before processing.
  • Widely used in specialized applications. example, petrol pumps, airplanes, hospitals, and scientific applications.

Advantages of using hybrid computers:

  • Computing speed is very high.
  • Produces accurate and quick results.
  • Solve and manage big equations in real-time.
  • Use for on-line data processing.

On the basis of size, the computer can be of five types:

  1. Supercomputer
  2. Mainframe computer
  3. Minicomputer
  4. Workstation
  5. Microcomputer


Characteristics or uses of supercomputers:

  • The first supercomputer was developed by roger cray in 1976.
  • Biggest and fastest computers.
  • Process huge amount of data ( Process trillions of instructions in a second) as complex and real-time processing.
  • Most powerful in terms of speed and accuracy.
  • Used in solving complex mathematical computations.
  • Capable of executing trillions of instructions per second, and calculated in floating-point operations per second (flops) and rate of petaflops (or pflops). (personal computer only capable of calculating millions of instructions per second (MIPS)).
  • Use cluster system computing means that machines use multiple processors in one system.
  • The famous supercomputers deep blue and Watson defeated chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov and quiz expert ken Jennings respectively.
  • Size largest.
  • Priced between $200,000 to over $100 million.

 Uses of supercomputers

  • Use thousands of interconnected processors.
  • Particularly used in scientific and engineering applications such as weather forecasting, scientific simulations, and nuclear energy research, simulate the events of the big bang and other space-related projects.
  • Use for decrypting your password to improve protection for security(encrypt and decrypt sensitive data), excellent results in animations (Hollywood uses supercomputers to create realistic animations).
  • Used for virtual testing of nuclear weapons and critical medical tests and diagnose new diseases, strains and predict illness behaviour and treatment.
  • Study and understand climate patterns and forecast weather conditions.
  • Used for flight simulators for pilots at the beginner level for their training.
  • Used in data storage centers or cloud systems example, in insurance companies, managing the online currency world as stock market and bitcoin.
  • Used in the medical field for the diagnosis of various critical diseases and in producing accurate results in brain injuries, strokes, science, compute and model properties of biological compounds like protein and human blood. etc.
  • Used in scientific research areas by accurately analyzing data obtained from exploring the solar system, satellites, and movement of earth ex.  predict earthquakes.
  • Used for online gaming where thousands of gamers around the world are playing.
  • Used in a smog control system where it predicts the level of fog and other pollutants in the atmosphere.

The Top Supercomputers

YearName of SupercomputerManufacturerSpeed in PFLOPS
2008RoadrunnerIBM - USA1.105
2009JaguarCray - USA1.759
2010Tianhe - 1ANUDT - China2.566
2011K ComputerFugitsu - Japan10.51
2012TitanCray - USA17.59
2013Tianhe - 2NUDT - China33.86
2014Tianhe - 2NUDT - China33.86
2015Tianhe - 2NUDT - China33.86
2016Sunway TaihuLightNSC -China93.01
2017Sunway TaihuLightNSC -China93.01


2). Mainframe computer

Characteristics of Mainframe Computers:

  • Support hundreds OR thousands of users simultaneously and support multiple programs at the same time.
  • Execute different processes simultaneously.
  • Use in big organizations like banking and telecom sectors, which manage and process the high volume of data that requires integer operations such as indexing, comparisons, etc.
  • Process huge amounts of data, e.g. Millions of transactions in a second in the banking sector.
  • Excellent performance (for large-scale memory management).
  • Share or distribute workload among their processors and input/output terminals if any error occurs it can fix it quickly without affecting the performance.
  • Protect the stored information and data.
  • Large-sized computer.
  • Work as big file servers, enabling multiple users from nearby and remote locations to access resources at the same time so-known as big iron.


Uses of Mainframes

Used in large organizations where thousands of clients have to access data simultaneously as :- .

  • ATM cash withdrawals and deposits.
  • Business transactions from credit cards or pre-paid cards.
  • Online electronic transactions.
  • Cloud storage.
  • Handling of patient records in major hospitals.
  • Making reservations and travel schedules for airline companies.
  • Manipulation and tallying of data for census and electoral purposes.
  •  Use in health care, defense, education, retail sector, etc…

The price of mainframe computers:- $75,000 to $1 million.

System z9, Fujitsu-ICL VME and Hitachi’s Z800 are examples of Mainframes.

3). Mini-frame or Minicomputer

Characteristics of mini-frame or minicomputer:

  • Midsize multiprocessing computer.
  • Consists of two or more processors and can support 4 to 200 users at one time.
  • Used in institutes and departments for tasks such as billing, accounting, and inventory management.
  • Lies between the mainframe and microcomputer.
  • General-purpose computer.
  • lightweight that makes it easy to carry and fit anywhere.
  • Less expensive than mainframe computers
  • The first minicomputer was developed in 1967 by a digital equipment corporation and later designed by IBM.
  •  Perform various activities as:
  • Switchboard control.
  • Dedicated applications for graphics and computer design.
  • Time-sharing for multiple users in a single system.
  • Control and monitoring of manufacturing activities, laboratory equipment.
  • Use for Process control, Data management, Communications Portal, etc.

 Example :- Texas Instrument TI-990, K-202 and MicroVAX II.

4) Workstation

Characteristics of workstation computer:

  • single-user computer.
  • Use for technical or scientific applications.
  • Faster microprocessor, a large amount of ram, and high-speed graphic adapters.
  • Performs a specific job with great expertise so these are different types such as graphics workstations, music workstations, and engineering design workstations.
  • It is a high-performance computer system designed for a single user for business or professional use.
  • It has a larger storage capacity, better graphics, and a more powerful CPU than a personal computer.
  • It can handle animation, data analysis, cad, audio and video creation, and editing.
  • Multiple processor cores: it has more processor cores than simple laptops or computers.
  • ECC ram: it is provided with error-correcting code memory that can fix memory errors before they affect the system's performance.
  • Raid (redundant array of independent disks): it refers to multiple internal hard drives to store or process data.
  • SSD: (solid-state drives) is better than conventional hard-disk drives. It does not have moving parts, so the chances of physical failure are very less.
  • Optimized, higher-end GPU: (graphics processing units )it reduces the load on the CPU. E.g., the CPU has to do less work while processing the screen output.

5) Microcomputer

  • The microcomputer is also known as a personal computer.
  • It is a general-purpose computer that is designed for individual use.
  • It has a microprocessor as a central processing unit, memory, storage area, input unit, and output unit.
  • Laptops and desktop computers are examples of microcomputers.
  • They are suitable for personal work that may be making an assignment, watching a movie, or an office for office work.

Characteristics of a microcomputer:

  • It is the smallest in size among all types of computers.
  • A limited number of software can be used.
  • It is designed for personal work and applications. Only one user can work at a time.
  • It is less expensive and easy to use.
  • It does not require the user to have special skills or training to use it.
  • Use a single semiconductor chip.
  • It is capable of multitasking such as printing, scanning, browsing, watching videos, etc.
  • less processing power.

The operating system used in personal computers are:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux
  • IOS
  • Android

Categories of personal computers include:

  • Desktop computers
  • Mobile computers
  • Wearable computers

On the basis of purpose, there are just two variety of computers.

General Purpose – 

Based on General Purpose, there are these following functions which a device is expected to perform:

  1. Basic Input/Output functions
  2. Calculations
  3. Data Saving on a smaller scale
  4. General performing activities

These may include basic calculators, laptops, desktop computers, mobile phones, etc., which can help people with their basic necessary functions are included in the General-Purpose computer type.

Special Purpose – 

When a computer is designed specifically to perform a certain function, such a type of computer is known as a Special Purpose computer. These types may include:

    1. Thermometers to test temperature
    2. Generators to manage electricity
    3. Devices used for analysing Climate Change
    4. Large computers for IT Companies
    5. Machines used at Manufacturing Units and the list goes on and on

Special-purpose computers are important for various Organisations and their applications are made in a way that makes the work easy and efficient. 



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