The Difference Between a Desktop Computer and a Minicomputer
A computer is an apparatus that is programmed to carry out logical or mathematical operations automatically, without the user’s intervention. Modern computers are able to do general sets of activities such as scheduling and managing tasks, controlling and organizing data, and synthesizing and executing programs. In computer parlance, computers are made up of elements called microprocessors, memory modules, input and output devices, and input and output devices again. These components are connected through a network or a connection or bus. In computer systems, a central processing unit (CPU) is located inside the computer, and the processing units can be either microprocessor or mainframe.
Typically, mainframe computers have their own processing power and can execute instructions from main memory. The execution of such instructions transfers the instructions to the microprocessor which does the actual calculations and translates the results into useful outputs for the computer user. Since mainframes can execute or manage programs in parallel, they are capable of running multiple tasks simultaneously. On the other hand, microprocessor on the other hand can only perform single task at a time, and so they cannot perform tasks simultaneously.
Traditionally, a mainframe computer was an expensive device that was needed by big corporations to run their information processing needs. Mainframes were used to store large amounts of information and were susceptible to crashes due to severe weather conditions and other external factors. As a result, it was necessary to have another device that was specially designed for the storing and management of large amounts of information, and this second device was called the microprocessor. Microprocessor computers were extremely expensive and were used primarily for large organizations.
On the other hand, today’s desktop computer operates almost similarly to a minicomputer in its basic operation. It has the same basic elements as a minicomputer, but on a smaller scale. Due to their smaller size, they can easily be accommodated in a small-sized office. Also, they consume less power than a typical minicomputer and are much easier to repair than a mainframe.
Now, even though both types of computer are widely used nowadays, there are many differences between them. A mainframe computer stores larger amounts of information and is more complex in its operations. On the other hand, a microprocessor is designed to perform calculations in a shorter time. However, mainframes are more popular because they have higher storage capacity and greater memory. Meanwhile, a minicomputer has lower storage capacity and less memory.
Another major difference between a mainframe and a microprocessor is that a mainframe can handle thousands of commands at one time while a microprocessor can only perform two simultaneous commands. In addition, mainframes are generally connected to other computer devices through buses while microcomputers must connect to the central computer through peripheral devices. Although both types of computers have common examples of input and output devices, they differ when it comes to peripheral devices. Mainframes can connect to a keyboard and mouse, while a microcomputer can only accept and send data through a USB or parallel port.