You are most probably reading this article on a computer or a smartphone. But there are also other types of computers. Among them, the mainframe is a type of computer having enormous power and speed. It is used in almost all large institutions and companies. IBM still manufacture this type of computer. DO you want to know what is mainframe computer and what is the use of this? Read the whole article. By the end of this article, you will know all about this.
What Is Computer and Different Types of Computers
At first, you have to know about computer and different types of computer before knowing about mainframe computer. The computer is nothing but a machine made by man. In general, computer means a machine that can compute. This machine helps human to make their life easier in many ways, almost in all ways. Today, you see many kinds of computers. You are most probably reading this article using a computer or a smartphone or a tablet. All of these are computers.
There are various types of computers in the world. Generally, computers are classified into 5 different sections:
- PC (Personal Computer): This kind of computer is single-user computer like your desktop or laptop or smartphone. This kind of computer has a moderately powerful microprocessor.
- Work Station: This kind of computer is also single-user computer like a personal computer but unlike a personal computer, this computer generally has a more powerful microprocessor.
- Mini Computer: This kind of computer is a multi-user Hundreds of users can use this computer simultaneously.
- Main Frame: This computer gives an ultra-high This kind of computer generally has the size of a refrigerator. This computer is used in various kinds of works that are so much processor-intensive.
- Supercomputer: This computer is used where hundreds of millions of instructions need to be executed within a fraction of a second. The supercomputer is generally used in scientific work where some specific tasks need to be completed such as quantum mechanics, climate research, oil or gas exploration etc.
What Is a Mainframe Computer and How It Works?
A mainframe is an ultra-high powerful computer for extreme processor intensive work. This is a very large computer. You cannot expect to have a mainframe computer on your desk. But yes, apart from the processor, you can expect to have a computer on your desk in future that is as powerful as a mainframe computer. In the hierarchy of computers, the mainframe is right above the minicomputer and right below the supercomputer. The mainframe can generally execute many programs simultaneously at an enormous speed.
How the Word “Mainframe” Came
Mainframe is not named like that for their types of performances but the way they are built. It is an industry term for a large computer. Most important units of a mainframe computer like the central processing unit (CPU), memory are housed in a frame. As the main computer is built in a frame, so it is named as mainframe.
Operating Systems on a Mainframe Computer
In the past, UNIX, LINUX or VMS were used to operate a mainframe computer. But these operating systems are not so robust and not designed to operate a computer like a mainframe. So, later, IBM created new, robust, special operating systems for the mainframe. Those operating systems are Z/OS, Z/VM, and VSE/ESA.
Programming Languages Used in Mainframe Computer
COBOL programming language was invented in 1959 and then used in the mainframe computer. COBOL became an object-oriented programming (OOP) language in 2002. COBOL is still used in software like batch transactions application on the mainframe. COBOL cannot be replaced easily because a lot of applications for mainframe computers are coded in COBOL.
Not only COBOL but also PASCAL, FORTRAN, ALGOL are used in the mainframe computer. Did you know that you can connect your PC to a mainframe? You have to use an interface called 3270 emulations and can make changes and punch codes to the mainframe.
Why Mainframe Is Called Big Iron
It is a dream for hackers to get into an ultra-high powerful computer. Big iron is a term which is generally used by computer hackers. It means a huge, ultra-fast and powerful computer which is nothing but a mainframe computer.
History of Mainframe Computer
Mainframe computer was really introduced in the late 1950s. In that stage, only digital calculation was most considerable. In that time, IBM was the giant manufacturer of the mainframe computer. There were also other companies such as UNIVAC, CDC, NCR, Burroughs, Honeywell, RCA and General Electronics. But the IBM was top of all other companies. All other seven companies formed a group and the mainframe manufacturers became IBM and the Seven Dwarfs in 1960.
At that time, IBM introduced IBM 700/7000 series mainframe computer. This computer used vacuum tube logic. After that IBM developed 7000s. It used transistors instead of the vacuum tubes for performing logical operations.
On the 1980s, minicomputers were available in the market. In that time, the mainframe was named as big iron. Minicomputers started replacing Mainframe computer from the small institutions because of its light weight and reasonably less price than a mainframe computer. In terms of power, security, and speed, minicomputer doesn’t get a chance to compete with the mainframe computer. So, still, mainframes are used by large institutions for running transaction processes and complex applications.
Why the Use of Mainframe Computer Lessened in the past Years
Banking and other financial institutions still using mainframe computer for running their business. But many companies have switched from using mainframe computer. Small business institutions most of the time cannot bear the expense of a mainframe computer and its maintenance cost. Again, there are other technologies that can do the business of the small companies.
Why Ibm Still Making Mainframe Computer
More or less all companies rely on the mainframe computer for the business. Because mainframe computer is so efficient, productive and secured in doing works. Though there are many technologies, IBM still manufacturing mainframe computer. The reasons are described below:
- E-commerce business and stock brokerage firms use mainframe computer to track customer orders. Mainframes are also used for controlling transactions of money, maintain and process hundreds of millions of information.
- Mainframe computers are used in most of the financial sectors for performing transactions processing, resource management etc.
- Car and flight manufacturers still manufacture products using mainframe computer. Because it needs a lot of calculations, perfect design and a lot of quality check which cannot be done except using the mainframe. Also, there must be a secure system so that the design or models cannot be hacked. All the things are possible because of the security system of the mainframe computer.
- Big entertainment business needs mainframe computer to make complex animations or VFX work.
- The mainframe is used in medical science too. The operations of the human and making of drugs should be too much accurate and risk-free. Nothing but mainframe can do this because of its supper accuracy and speed. Detailed diagnostics and cutting-edge operations are performed by using mainframe computers.
- Mainframe computers are largely used in military operations. Mainframes are used for tracking purposes. Communication between moving ships and so fast fighter planes need fast calculations and accuracy. Again, there must be so much security because if a simple information can be hacked then a full war can be lost. In this situation, nothing can defeat mainframe computer.
Mainframe Computer in the Security System
A mainframe computer is used in transactions of money and passing information. Companies need a secured system to perform all their works. But is mainframe capable of giving this much security? The answer is yes.
Data breaching is a common problem for the companies and nations. Giant companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Facebook suffered because of data breaching. Even FBI couldn’t control this kind of situation. Hackers can expose private information of important personalities and organizations because of the unsecured system. No system can be 100% hack proof. But security experts say they can discourage and lessen the percentage of hacking by using a powerful system.
Mainframe computer actively monitors all the activities. It is a daydream for the hackers to alter a file inside a mainframe computer. They can try to temper a file. But it needs more than a genius brain. Blockchain, a security algorithm which was created for protecting BitCoin transactions is implemented in mainframe computer in order to prevent the data breach.
Most of the companies keep all the data in a mainframe computer. Even universities use mainframe computer to keep the data because of the security. It is a more secure system than keeping all the data here and there in small storing devices. So, it becomes easy to protect the data and monitor the activities because all the things are performed in a machine.
Modern Mainframe Computer
Most of the mainframe manufacturing companies stopped manufacturing mainframe computer. They now produce small computers like Pcs. IBM stopped manufacturing PCs in 2005. In 2014. IBM sold most of their hardware business. But they still manufacturing mainframe computer. In 2015, they announced a new frame named IBM System Z13. Some modern mainframe computers are IBM Z series, System Z9 and System Z10. They are much customized and modified and are able to fulfill most of the requirements of the industries.
Characteristics of Modern Mainframes:
- Modern mainframes are compact sized. In the past, mainframes used to be the size of a house covering about 2000 to 10000 square feet. But the modern mainframe has the size of a refrigerator.
- It can perform about 2.5 billion of transactions per day. Each of the transaction is real-time encrypted.
- Modern mainframe computers are implanted with virtual machine technique. So, a mainframe computer can act as many small systems.
- It can support thousands of users simultaneously and is also able to handle a lot of input and output at a time.
- IBM Z9 and Z10 compute any complex calculations two or three times to ensure the perfect result.
- Almost all the Financial companies, airlines, and stock brokers have mobile applications to let the users perform operations through smartphones. Modern mainframes are designed for that. It makes the transactions possible through a smartphone in a secured and hazard-free way.
- IBM System z13 is designed for application economy. Now, it can handle a lot of transactions than before and also implements real-time fraud detection.
- Modern mainframes are highly reliable and secured.
Mainframe vs Supercomputer Which One Is Better ?
The supercomputers are the most powerful computers of all time made by human being. Supercomputers and mainframe computers can do those tasks which general computer cannot do. For example, if an intel core i7 processor can perform 300 million instructions per second, then a supercomputer can perform about 1000 trillion instructions per second.
It actually cannot be said which one is better because both the mainframe and supercomputer are best in their own way. But we are giving you a comparison between them.
- Transaction processing like a commercial exchange of goods, services, and money can be handled better in a mainframe computer than a supercomputer.
- The supercomputer is not good as mainframe in inventory control and updating database.
- In terms of processing power, the supercomputer is far time better than a mainframe
- Computational ability and accuracy are higher in a supercomputer. The supercomputer is better where more accuracy of the calculation is needed.
- Supercomputer put all its power to execute few programs in order to gain a high speed. But mainframe computer executes all the tasks at the same time by using its power.
Mainframe is a computer having the power greater than a mini computer and less than a supercomputer. After reading this article, now you know in where mainframe computer is used. It is used in almost all industries and companies. Its security system is so powerful like its hardware. IBM is still manufacturing this kind of computer because almost all the companies depend on a mainframe computer to get their work done. We hope, now you know all about mainframe computer and its uses.