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FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE TYPE OF COMPUTER TO USE

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FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE TYPE OF COMPUTER.

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  1. Type of processor (Central processing unit – CPU)

Microcomputers use microprocessors, which are manufactured on a single chip, as their CPU. 

In larger computers such as supercomputers, mainframe & minicomputers, the processing is carried out by a number of separate, high-speed components instead of a single processor.

  • Processing speed.

Every computer has a clock that drives its operations.

Larger computers have faster clocks and therefore can process many instructions per second compared to small computers, which have slower clocks.

  • Amount of Main memory (RAM).

All computers have some amount of RAM (Random Access memory), which is used to hold the instructions required to perform a task.

Larger computers have more RAM and therefore can handle large volumes of data & also support many and sophisticated programs which might require large memory sizes.

  • Storage capacity of the Hard disk.

The storage capacity is the amount of space that is available for storing the instructions required to manipulate data.

Larger computers have higher storage capacities than microcomputers.

  • Cost of the computer.

The cost of computers is directly related to the size.  Microcomputers are less costly compared to minicomputers, mainframes or Supercomputers.

  • Speed of Output devices.

The speed of an output device is determined by the amount of information that can be printed in a specified amount of time.

The speed of microcomputer output device is less than that of the larger computers in that:

For a microcomputer, the speed of its output device is measured by the number of characters printed per second (cps).  For larger computers, their output devices are faster and their speeds are measured depending on the number of lines or pages printed per minute (lpm / ppm).

  • Number of users who can access the computer at the same time.

Most microcomputers can support only 1, 2 or 3 users at the same time.  However, they can be networked to share resources. 

Larger computers can support hundreds of users at the same time.

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Review Questions.

  1. Briefly explain five factors that can be used to determine the type of a computer.

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