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Classes of computers

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Classes of computers

Computers can be classified, or typed, in many ways. Some common classifications are summarized below. For others see Category:Classes of computers.

Contents

  • Classes by size 1
    • Microcomputers (personal computers) 1.1
    • Minicomputers (midrange computers) 1.2
    • Mainframe computers 1.3
    • Supercomputers 1.4

Classes by size

Microcomputers (personal computers)

Microcomputers are the most common kind of computers in use as of 2014. The term “microcomputer” was introduced with the advent of systems based on single chip microprocessors. The best-known early system was the Altair 8800, introduced in 1975. The term "microcomputer" has practically become an anachronism.

These computers include:

Smaller microcomputers are also called mobile devices:

Minicomputers (midrange computers)

Minicomputers (colloquially, minis) are a class of multi-user computers that lie in the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the smallest mainframe computers and the largest single-user systems (microcomputers or personal computers). The term superminicomputer or supermini was used to distinguish more powerful minicomputers that approached mainframes in capability. Superminis were usually 32-bit at a time when most minicomputers were 16-bit. The contemporary term for minicomputer is midrange computer, such as the higher-end SPARC, POWER and Itanium-based systems from Oracle Corporation, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Mainframe computers

The term mainframe computer was created to distinguish the traditional, large, institutional computer intended to service multiple users from the smaller, single user machines. These computers are capable of handling and processing very large amounts of data quickly. Mainframe computers are used in large institutions such as government, banks and large corporations. They are measured in MIPS (million instructions per second) and respond to up to 100s of millions of users at a time.

Supercomputers

A Supercomputer is focused on performing tasks involving intense numerical calculations such as weather forecasting, fluid dynamics, nuclear simulations, theoretical astrophysics, and complex scientific computations. A supercomputer is a computer that is at the front-line of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation. The term supercomputer itself is rather fluid, and the speed of today's supercomputers tends to become typical of

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