Which Should Be Used?
October 27, 2012
CIS312: Computer Architectures I
Professor Raman Marwah
Classical Computer Systems:
Which Should Be Used? There are many ways to access information in today’s society by using many different types of computers. We now have supercomputers, mainframe computers, desktops, laptops, and handheld computers which include smart phones and tablets. Each of these computer types has its own set of specifications and may be used for several different things. It is important for company leaders to understand the functions of each in order to decide which is best for their company and employees. A supercomputer is designed for rapid mathematical computation and is typically used for computation-intensive applications such as simulations, 3D modeling, weather prediction, computer animation, and real-time analysis of large databases (Burd, 2011). The latest supercomputer, known as the Titan, was unveiled on October 29 at the United States Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Titan is a 20-petaflop, Cray XK7 that pairs 18,688 Advanced Micro Devices 16-core Opteron 6274 CPUs with 18, 688 Nvidia Tesla GPUs (graphics processing units) and has. By pairing the joint computing power of CPUs and GPUs, this supercomputer is able to provide results in the most power-efficient way. The Titan is built into 200 server cabinets and has 700 TB of RAM. It consumes 9 megawatts of power and the energy costs could be as high as $10 million a year (Shah, 2012). One key aspect about a supercomputer is that there is no internal disk storage (Burd, 2011). A mainframe computer system runs the information-processing needs of a large number of users and applications. Mainframes has the resources to support hundreds of users using video display terminals, run many programs simultaneously, and respond to requests for shared resources. One distinguishing feature of a mainframe is the ability to store large quantities of data and move it from one place to another very quickly (Burd, 2011). One of the new mainframe computers by IBM is the zEnterprise EC12 which is powered by 120 microprocessors running at 5.5 GHz and can execute more than 78,000 millions of instructions per second. The zEC12 supports up to 3 TB of RAM and provides high-speed connectivity out to the data and network (IBM zEnterprise, n.d.). Desktop computers, laptops, and handheld computers are all considered microcomputer which is a computer system designed for an individual user’s needs. Typical tasks performed by desktops and laptops include word processing, computer games, web browsing, and small to medium application programs such as payroll or income tax preparation. A popular desktop today is the Dell Inspiron 660 which can have an Intel Celeron processor, which is a single core processor with a clock speed of around 1.7 GHz, up to the i5 processor that is a quad core processor with clocks speeds up to 3 GHz. It can be configured with up to 8 GB of RAM, a hard drive up to 1 TB, and is available with wireless or wired network connections (Dell Insprion, n.d.). Today’s laptops have most of the same features as a desktop does with the addition of having a built-in display ranging from 12 to 17 inches. The Dell Inspiron 15 is a 15.6 inch laptop that comes with a dual core processor and a clock-speed of 2.3 GHz. It can be configured with up to 6GB of RAM, up to 500 GB hard drive, a 6 cell battery, and includes both wired and wireless network connections (Inspiron 15, n.d.). Handheld computers started out as personal data assistants (PDA) but quickly evolved into smart phones and most recently include tablet computers. Smart phones include the iPhone and Blackberry models and typically have small memory generally less than 16 GB of storage for applications and other data and can be connected to the Internet