Computers have now become a part of our daily lives. Anything and everything is now completely computer-dependent. However, an increase in needs has also created an increase in the demands.
There are hundreds of different tasks that require the need of computers but, a single type of computer performing each of these tasks is not a feasible option. This is why with the advancement in technology we have come up with different types of computers each serving a unique purpose.
In this article, let us look at some of these computers which are classified based on-
- Data type handling
- Purpose they serve
Types of Computers based on Data Type
Based on the data type handling, computers can be categorized as Digital, Analog and Hybrid.
Digital – Our personal computers are an example of a digital computer. These computers accept input in the form of 0s and 1s, process, and provide the output. These computers perform all the logical & arithmetical operations with binary inputs. Any input given in any language is first converted into binary language and then the computer processes the information. Examples – laptops, PCs, mobile phones, desktops, etc.
Analog – These computers process the analog data. An analog data keep varying and does not have any discrete value. They read the continuous change in the input, process it, and provide the output. Although analog computers perform with equal diligence and accuracy, they are however slower than digital computers and are also slightly less precise.
Speedometer, thermometer, frequency, and signal of voltage, measuring the resistance of a capacitor are some of the examples where analog computers are used.
Hybrid – Hybrid computers are a mix of both analog and digital computers. These computers are used to perform a high level of calculations quickly and efficiently. It takes input in analog form, converts it into digital form, and then processes it to produce an output. Such computers are used for scientific purposes. For example, in the hospitals to measure the heartbeat of the patients, or at research institutes to measure earthquakes and other natural calamities.
Types of Computers based on the Purpose
Microcomputer – Microcomputers also called personal computers are single-chip – based systems. These are useful for personal use and can perform all the basic functions of the computer. microcomputers require very little space and are comparatively inexpensive. Such computers have the most minimalistic requirement in terms of I/O devices and have all the circuitry mounted on a single PCB. Examples: tablets, I pads, smartwatches, laptops, desktops
Minicomputer – Standing in between a microcomputer and a mainframe computer is the minicomputer. These computers are useful if people around 5 to 300 want to operate the system at the same time. You can see such computers at the billing counters of malls or large institutions.
Mainframe – The mainframe computers come into use when a large number of people like in the health care or retail sector want to access data simultaneously. A large amount of data is processed in these computers. Mainframe computers have evolved a lot over the years in terms of speed, size, and efficiency. Mainframe computers are just below the supercomputers and sometimes are even more useful than a supercomputer. Examples – IBM z Series, System z9, etc.
Supercomputers – The biggest and fastest computers are the supercomputers. Such computers can process trillions of functions within a few seconds. Their performance is measured in MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second). These computers are specifically designed for scientific applications such as –
- Encryption decryption of passwords
- Weather forecasting
- Testing of nuclear weapons
- Scientific research of earth and other planetary systems, etc.
Examples – PARAM supercomputer series, Gravity Pipe for astrophysics, Deep Crack for deciphering codes, etc.
Types of Computers based on the Functionality
Workstations – Workstation computers are designed for single usage and professional purposes. These are like our basic laptops and desktops but with added superior features, for example, double-processor motherboard, added graphic card, ECC RAM, etc. The workstations are more powerful as compared to generic PCs and can handle heavy-duty functions like animation, CAD, audio & video editing, professional gaming, etc.
Examples: Apple PowerBook G4, SPARC CPU, MIPS CPU, etc.
Servers – These are hardware components or software programs that are built to assist other computers termed as clients. together this architecture is called the client-server model. The client sends a request to the server and the server responds in return with a result or a solution. This proves that these server computers are more powerful than standard computers. The main purpose of these computers is to share data and resources with other computers.
Different types of servers are useful for different needs and applications. For example, cloud server, application server, database server, file server, etc. each of these servers have a different purpose for different client needs.
Embedded – These computers are mainly microcontroller-based systems and are used for processing specific tasks. The embedded computers have both the combination of software and hardware components but are usually a part of a larger system. each of its components is designed from scratch to serve a specific purpose or complete a specific task. Another characteristic that distinguishes them from a standard PC is that all of its components are integrated on a single PCB or motherboard. They are most helpful for industrial use because of their ruggedness.
Examples: GPS systems, centralized heating systems, fitness trackers, digital watches, electronic calculators, etc.
Information appliances – Mostly portable devices designed for specific functions come under this category. They can perform very restricted tasks for which they are built like, text editors, music players, photography, videography, etc. the most common example is mobile phones. However, many wearable devices are also available in the market.
Kuldeep is the founder and lead author of ArtOfTesting. He is skilled in test automation, performance testing, big data, and CI-CD. He brings his decade of experience to his current role where he is dedicated to educating the QA professionals. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.