Personal Computer Case Study

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1.3.1 Microcomputers (Personal Computer)
A computer system that utilizes a microprocessor as its central control and arithmetic element. The personal computer is one form. The power and price of a microcomputer is determined partly by the speed and power of the processor and partly by the characteristics of other components of the system, i.e. the memory, the disk units, the display, the keyboard, the flexibility of the hardware, and the operating system and other software.
Memory sizes range up to thousands of megabytes and the access speed can also vary considerably. The capacity of floppy disk drives varies up to several hundred megabytes. Optical disk's capacities lie in the tens of gigabyte range and hard disk capacities in the hundreds
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With such a successful market possibility many companies stepped in to venture in the minicomputer market. The most successful among these two hundred companies was DEC that launched the minicomputer models PDP-11 and VAX 11/780.
Some significant aspects and historical facts about the mini computer system has been summarized as follows:
• They are much smaller in size than the mainframe computer systems. As such they do not occupy an entire room but usually occupy space similar in size to that of a standard refrigerator.
• They are much less expensive than the mainframes.
• Their invention was possible because of the invention of core memory technologies and transistors.
• Minicomputers can give parallel access to up to 100 users. Hence they were used in places such as business organizations for maintaining billings and finances.
• Some of the very first companies to manufacture the minicomputer systems were Hewlett Packard, DEC and Data General.
A few models of minicomputers which have been a marked success over the years are:-
• DEC VAX series and PDP series
• Hewlett Packard HP3000 series
• SDS, SDS-92
• Prime Computers, Prime 50 Series
• Norsk Data, Nord-1, Nord-10, Nord-100
• IBM Midrange
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These are specialized and task specific computers used by large organizations. These computers are used for research and exploration purposes, like NASA uses supercomputers for launching space shuttles, controlling them and for space exploration purpose. The supercomputers are very expensive and very large in size. It can be accommodated in large air-conditioned rooms; some super computers can span an entire building.
Exascale Supercomputer
On 29th July, 2015, President of the United States, Barack Obama, approved the development of an Exascale Super Computer. The Exascale Super computer will be 30 times faster and more powerful than today’s fastest Super Computers. The need to develop such a high performance Supercomputer comes after China’s surge in high performance computing. However, the US still tops the list of Supercomputers with 233 high performance machines. China has 37 Supercomputers but they lead the list of the most powerful and high performance supercomputers since June 2013.

Uses of Supercomputers In Pakistan Supercomputers are used by Educational Institutes like NUST for research purposes. Pakistan Atomic Energy commission & Heavy Industry Taxila uses supercomputers for Research

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