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Defining characteristics of mainframe computer systems

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by Alex Wright, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    Hi guys,

    I was just wondering, what do you think are the defining characteristics of mainframe computer systems? By that I mean, what classifies a computer system as a mainframe and not say a supercomputer? I've been asked to do a little research on it for a friend but if I'm honest don't really have the time.

    I look forward to your informative replies!

    - Alex
     
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  2. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

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    Hi Alex, you might want to try google as you'd get a wide range of deferring characteristics of your subject matter.
     
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  3. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    I agree as you will get answers like one is a big computer and one is an even bigger computer.
     
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  4. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    He he, nice reply GBL!

    I'll do a search on Google later and hopefully find some useful info.
     
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  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Why doesn't your friend simply Google for the information? :D You're doing the work for him/her... and we, in turn, are doing it for you... ;)

    Eh, no harm, no foul. :)
     
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  6. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    There are no real defining characteristics that everybody would agree on.

    This is no different from the argument of what separates 'main-frame' from 'mini' and 'micro'. It is in the eyes of the beholder.

    You either write a proper paper on this, which will extend to quite a size, or give some slip-shod crap to the lecturer (I'm assuming this is a class assignment - nobody else would give a damn), depending on the bias/assumptions/competence of said lecturer.

    Harry (the jaded)
     
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  7. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Supercomputers are often geared to do one thing, very quickly, and time on them is allocated on a project by project basis

    Mainframes are more like the work horses of big business, they do bulk data computation, but they are designed to multi task via the virtualisation of the software layer (a mainframe could say, run 5 different operating systems, all doing a unique task

    this is not quite like the x86 virtualisation we see today


    I suggest you have a good read through the wikipedia entries for both
    for some comic value read here
    https://www.gelato.unsw.edu.au/archives/comp-arch/2006-August/002224.html
     
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  8. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    BM, she's not what you could call computer literate and only wanted a few notes. But judging on what others have said, this is quite a contentious subject and difficult to summarize.

    I think what I may do is lend her a book on mainframes from the library and point her in the direction of some useful websites.
     
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  9. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    It looks to me like Phoenix gave a pretty accurate description of the generic differences between the two. Mainframes are the workhorses. They are like a Clydesdale in that they do the heavy lifting needed on a day-to-day basis in business. A supercomputer is often specifically designed to do certain jobs, and you won't find one of them running an ordinary business application for a bank or something like that. They are used more for things like scientific computing, weather prediction, etc....
     
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  10. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    Thanks for that ffreeloader, and thank you Pheonix.

    - Alex

    P.S - Sorry for the belated response! :)
     
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  11. Kraven

    Kraven Kilobyte Poster

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    You learn something everyday!

    Kraven
     
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  12. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    Sorry guys, me again, back to bug you!

    I'm really struggling to find any information on mainframe dimensions.

    I'd like know the dimensions of a typical mainframe system from way back in the late 30s when they took off, through to the present day.

    Can anybody point me in the direction of some good resources?

    Thanks in advance.

    - Alex
     
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  13. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    yeah they used to be '1 floor' now there about the size of half a rack
     
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  14. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    I guess you meant the 60's. :)
     
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  15. Alex Wright

    Alex Wright Megabyte Poster

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    Nope, the 30s, that's when I'm told they were first being designed.

    Is that incorrect?
     
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  16. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    <giggle> Yes - well incorrect.

    The first *computers* (never mind mainframes) appeared during the 2nd world war, i.e. in the '40s.

    (Ignoring the contributions by Charles Babbage)

    EDIT: You many want to read this article from Wikipedia.

    Harry.
     
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