Mainframes Vs Pc's. Essay

1180 words - 5 pages

The first obvious difference between a PC and a Mainframe is their size or "footprint". A pc is about 18" square and maybe 8" wide. Most people could take one apart with little or no training and install a new component like a modem or sound card. You can go buy a PC at most computer stores for less than $1500 and have a relatively powerful machine. In contrast Mainframes are very expensive, large in size, and your average Joe would not be able to open one up and simply add new components. They are usually installed in temperature-controlled rooms with access being limited to authorized personnel. They are not portable, at all. Maintenance is usually carried out by a third-party under strict, multi-million dollar contracts. A typical PC will have one or two hard drives, with 40 Gigabytes of hard drive space each, and 256 to 512 MB of RAM.Mainframes on the other hand, can come with hundreds of hard drives in a sophisticated RAID array with 30+ Terabytes of storage capacity andtypically Mainframes will have Gigabytes of memory. Most PCs will run Windows and function as Clients in a network environment while Mainframes exist only as Servers and typically run some form of UNIX/Linux.There are a lot of variables when comparing the differences between PC's and Mainframes, some of which include performance, reliability, and cost. In terms of raw CPU speed, there is probably not as big a difference as their once was. The differences lie mainly in reliability and I/O capabilities. Mainframes have a much larger I/O bandwidth than PC's have. In addition Mainframe's have a lot of redundancy and serviceability features built in. The way they handle I/O is also much more efficient than the 'lower end' PC boxes. In addition, Instead of one pathway into memory as in a PC, there are multiple memory banks providing multiple ports into memory. For example, Hitachi's Skylines have 16 ports into main memory and 32 ports into cache memory, and that cache memory is 10 times faster than regular, main memory. Compared to a pc mainframes may have up to three times the bus speed, 10 times the cache speed, perhaps 32 or 64 overlapped data transfers. Multiply one times the other, and the combination makes a processing machine unlike anything else.When we compare the reliability of mainframes and pc's the mainframe with its 99.99% uptime wins hands down. This amazing uptime is the product of 34 years of mainframe development. This has allowed companies who build mainframes time to perfect their systems and create a very formidable machine which has become virtually bulletproof. Half the hardware in a mainframe is error detection and correction circuitry. Every subsystem is continuously monitored for potential failure, in some cases even triggering a list of parts to be replaced at the next scheduled downtime. As a result, mainframes are incredibly reliable. In fact the mean time between failure of a system going down on its own is generally 20 years! For companies who demand...

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