The debate on what per say is a mini...

From: Clint Wolff <>
Date: Sat Dec 16 13:13:40 2000

On Sat, 16 Dec 2000, Chuck McManis wrote:

> At 11:35 PM 12/15/00 -0700, Clint wrote:
> >I hate to jump into a philosophical argument, but here goes....
> Oh they are the best kind, everyone can be right at the same time ;-)

No, only me :)

> >Mainframes are big/powerful machines that sit in a secured area and
> >are driven by terminals (X,PC,3270,etc) on peoples desks. They cost
> >big bucks.
> In the "modern" world, what about an Intel server that is locked up in a
> co-location facility at some ISP and is being driven by web browsers ?
> (some of which (netpliance) are effectively terminals?)

I'd still consider it a micro. Most similiarly configured machines
are not supporting corporations, just individual users. The fact
that one is locked up doesn't really change it's status as a toy...

> >Micro-computers are small/weak machines that sit on peoples
> >desk so they can surf the web and play solitare. They cost
> >next to nothing.
> My PC sits under my desk, only the monitor/keyboard is on top :-)
I've got four sitting on my desk, each with a specific task to do :)

> >Workstations are more powerful, but still small... They cost
> >more than micros.
> Cost only? When I worked at Sun we worked in something like video
> resolution or max memory, but the bottom line has traditionally been cost :-)
Interesting point... Workstations typically have had better than
average video and memory capabilities than the typical PC, but
the line has blurred quite a bit... At work I have a Compaq P3-700
with 256MB ram (expandable to 1GB), and a Sparc Ultra 10-440(?)...
The Compaq is ~2x the speed of the Sun, but the Sun was designed to
use PC parts to reduce the cost, making it just another micro IMNSHO...

> >Mini-computers is a nitch that has gone away (or been replaced
> >by workstations). They were less powerful than a mainframe, but
> >orders of magnitude cheaper and could sit next to a persons
> >desk. This was more of a marketing trick to help scientists
> >convince the bean-counters they weren't buying a real computer,
> >just a glorified calculater (PDP == Peripheral Data Processor).
> >A calculator doesn't need to be locked in a room with all the
> >other calculators :)
> Actually this isn't a fair description. Mini-computers most definitely have
> _not_ gone away and you will see a resurgence of mini-computer like
> features. Specifically, mini-computers are computers that are
> *configurable* with a wide variety of peripherals. This lets them be used
> for lab experiments, or process control, etc. PC's have done this in the
> past but the lack of I/O features on the mainstream "PC" of today are
> hindering their use in the lab and process control. Also the lack of
> documentation that many people have complained about.
We use PCs almost exclusively for lab work... Of course, we build
custom hardware to do the work and the PC runs matlab to collect and
display the data...

> Collectively this is the "cost" model and generally follows order of
> magnitudes:
> < 4K Micro
> < 40K Workstation
> < 400K Mini
> < 4M Mainframe
> < 40M Super
> I added the last bit because we haven't been including "what's a
> super-computer" in our lists. I heard a great talk by a guy who works at
> LLNL and the complaints the scientists had at the purchase of ASCI WHITE
> (super computer made out of parallel RISC chips) because it simply could
> not be used to program the kinds of models they used for nuclear simulations.
> >PS It is unfair to compare mainframes of old to PCs of new. To be
> >fair, compare an 11/780 with what was available at the time: the
> >Apple ][, Commodore, IBM PC(?). These machines couldn't support
> >multiple users, imagine running a university off of a cluster of
> >Amigas!
> But Clint, this is in fact the point. Can one come up with a definition
> that transcends what the marketroids called micro, mini, and mainframe of
> their day?
Proly not, but it's fun to try...

> >PPS A modern mainframe would have no problem out-performing
> >a PC for REAL work. It's designed to do just that.
> Agreed, check out the spec's for the IBM S/390 (I mean Z900 :-)
> --Chuck
Received on Sat Dec 16 2000 - 13:13:40 GMT

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