Desk-size computers / Supercomputers / Mainframes

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Terminology[edit]

Desk-size Computers, as a slang of MiniComputers due to their size and usual appearance, are a type of smaller general-purpose computer with size, price, and extensibility less than a mainframe computer, but still higher than microcomputers, later commonly known as personal computers (PCs). Usage and demands of minicomputers have greatly shrunk and are being taken over by PC-based server clusters over the years, but some of them are still serving irreplaceable roles for their high reliability and extensibility.

Supercomputers are computers specifically built for high-performance mathematical/scientific calculation with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.

Mainframes are high-performance computers with large amounts of memory and data processors that process billions of simple calculations and transactions in real-time. A mainframe computer is critical to commercial databases, transaction servers, and applications that require high resiliency, security, and agility. Like minicomputers, usage and demands have greatly shrunk and are being taken over by PC-based server clusters over the years, but some of them are still serving irreplaceable roles for their high reliability, extensibility, and less hassle for handling distributed computing in clusters.

Notice that the identification and distinction between PC-based clusters/servers, minicomputers, mainframes, and supercomputers aren't based on size, performance, or price, but system architecture, extensibility, and reliability; As integrated circuit technology evolves, a mainframe could be the size of a minicomputer (e.g. IBM System 390 Integrated Server 3006), a minicomputer could be a size of a relatively big personal computer/PC based server (e.g. IBM i5 515), while a regular laptop PC could achieve the performance of multi-million dollar mainframe in 1980s just by emulating it.

Comparison
Category Mainframe Minicomputer PC PC-based cluster Supercomputer
System Architecture Large scaled, sophisticated, self-contained devices interconnected with a proprietary bus Between PC and mainframe, some devices are self-contained and directly interconnected while others rely on the central processor and system bus Most to all components rely on the motherboard, central processor, power supply, and system bus Large amounts of self-contained PCs interconnected with Ethernet or other networking standards e.g. InfiniBand Large amounts of computation nodes interconnected with a proprietary bus, while each node may or may not be self-contained
Statistic Reliability Exceeding 99.99999% uptime per year; individual components failing won't cause performance or capacity issues 99.999% to 99.9999% uptime per year; individual components failing may cripple performance or capacity, but won't affect current tasks (unless some critical components) Poorly built ones could run into trouble every few hours under a high burden; unplanned downtime of proper prebuilt servers is around a few minutes to 1 hour per month; individual components failing always break all current tasks Varies (usually less than 99.9999% per year) depending on SLAs and configuration; each node follows the failure model of regular PC-based servers; nodes failing may cripple performance or capacity, but won't affect current tasks Not a priority, some supercomputers even run periodically every day; nodes failing may cripple performance or capacity, and may break current tasks
Servicability Most of the components and devices including critical ones are hot swappable without prerequisites; swapping components and devices won't interrupt current tasks Critical components are hot swappable after a proper stopping procedure, while peripherals may be hot swappable without prerequisites; swapping components and devices may interrupt current tasks Some peripherals are hot swappable after a proper stopping procedure, while critical components aren't; swapping components almost always interrupts current tasks Nodes are hot swappable with or without a proper stopping procedure, while components of each node follow regular PCs; swapping nodes won't interrupt current tasks Nodes are hot swappable with or without a proper stopping procedure, while components inside nodes may not even be serviceable depending on the actual design; swapping nodes may interrupt current tasks
Redundancy Multiple redundancy and backup at components and devices level; device-as-a-whole level redundancy is optional and seldom used Redundancy at components and devices level; device-as-a-whole level redundancy is optional and sometimes used Data and power redundancy could be achieved by practices and external devices like RAID, ECC RAM, UPS etc., otherwise no. Device-as-a-whole level redundancy is always used if better reliability needed Redundancy relying on large amounts of nodes, each node itself is not redundant; Software has to be programmed in a way to handle tasking reordering and data consistency in case of node failing Not a priority; nodes aren't redundant and software seldom considers node failing as tasks are usually parallel to make use of peak performance
Extensibility Highly customizable and capable as each device is self-contained Highly customizable and capable but more restrictions Restricted; All components relying on the central processor, power supply, and system bus; direct communication between peripherals are usually not possible Extension of scale relies on adding nodes Extension of scale relies on adding nodes
Compatibility Highly concerned; OS is running on top of HAL/LIC so changes of system architecture won't affect OS; OS is designed to be always API/ABI stable Highly concerned; OS is running on top of HAL/LIC so changes of system architecture won't affect OS; OS is designed to be always API/ABI stable Concerned but based on system architecture (PC/AT & x86) not changing much over the years; OS are architecture and hardware dependent and aren't always designed to be API/ABI stable Same as PC; programs have to be reworked if not designed with distributed computing in mind Least concerned; programs are usually specifically built for specific supercomputer; sometimes supercomputers are even built for a specific task (e.g. Anton series)

List of Desk-size computers / Supercomputers / Mainframes[edit]

Desk-size computers / Supercomputers / Mainframes
Model Year MAME support ROMs Description / Emulators / Other
A A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Analytical Engine by Charles Babbage 1837 None Simulator, Wikipedia
Analytical Engine by Percy Ludgate 1909 None Wikipedia
Apollo Guidance Computer 1966 None Virtual AGC, Moonjs
AT&T 3B Series 1982 Preliminary
Atomic Energy Authority Witch 1948 None Old Computers
B A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
BBN Butterfly ~ 1980s None
Bell Labs Model V 1946 None
Bombe 1940 None Wikipedia
Bendix G-15 1956 None
Bull Gamma Tambour 1955 None Gamma EmulaTion
Buromaschinenwerke Zella-Mehlis Cellatron 8205 1963 None Old Computers
C A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
CDC 160 Series 1960 None
CDC 1604 1960 None
CDC 3000 Series 1963 None
CDC 6000 Series 1964 None
CDC 7600 1967 None
CDC Cyber 1984 None
CDC Star-100 1974 None
Compumedic Analog Computer 1971 None Old Computers
Convex C3800 1991 None Old Computers
Cray Research C90 1991 None
Cray Research Cray-1 1975 None
Cray Research Cray-2 1985 None
Cray Research EL90 1993 None
Cray Research J90 1994 None
Cray Research T3D 1993 None Old Computers
Cray Research T90 1995 None
Cray Research X-MP 1982 None cray-sim
Cray Research XMS 1990 None
Cray Research Y-MP 1988 (Y-MP)
1992 (Y-MP EL)
None cray-sim
Csiro Csirac 1949 None CSIRAC Emulator
D A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Data General Nova 1969 None Novas Are Forever, DasherG
Data General Eclipse 1974 None Novas Are Forever, mvemg
Datatron 205 1954 None Retro 205
DEC PDP-1 1961 Good SIMH, Spacewar! Emulator
DEC PDP-8 1965 None Old Computers
DEC PDP-11 1970 Preliminary SIMH, Javascript Ersatz-11
DEC VAX-11 1977 to 1984 Preliminary (VAX-11/785) SIMH, Charon-VAX
E A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
EDSAC 1947 None Simulator, Edsac Replica Project
Elliot 803 / Elliot 903B 1961 None Peter Onion, hxw's repository, Simulation
English Electric Deuce 1955 None
Evans & Sutherland ES-1 1986 None
Evans & Sutherland ESIG-2000 1991 None Developed by Evans & Sutherland, the ESIG-2000 was designed for
simulations and high-end 3D Graphics[1]
F A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Ferranti-Packard 6000 1962 None
Ferranti Atlas 1962 None
Ferranti Mark 1 1951 None
Ferranti Pegasus 1 / 2 1956 to 1959 None PegEm
Ferranti Titan 1964 None
Fujitsu Facom M series 1974 None OSIV/XSP Enabling Kit for PRIMEQUEST PC-Based Server
Fujitsu Facom VP series 1982 None
Fujitsu Numerical Wind Tunnel 1993 None
Fujitsu VP2000 series 1990 None
G A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
General Electric GE-200 series 1961 (GE-225)
1963 (GE-215)
1964 (GE-205)
1964 (GE-235)
None
General Electric GE-600 series 1963 None
Goodyear MPP 1983 None
GRI Corporation GRI-909 / GRI-99 1969 None SIMH
H A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Heathkit EC-1 1960 None Old Computers
Honeywell 116 / 316 / 416 / 516 1965 to 1969 None SIMH
HP-2100 Series 1966 Preliminary SIMH
I A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
IBM 650 1954 None Wikipedia
IBM650
IBM 701 1952 None Wikipedia
IBM 701 Emulator
IBM 702 1955 None Wikipedia
IBM 704 1954 None Wikipedia
Sim704
IBM 1401 / 1620 / 1130 / 7090 1959 (1401 / 1620 / 7090)

1965 (1130)

None IBM 1401 Programming SIMH IBM1401
IBM AN/FSQ-7 1958 None Old Computers
IBM ASCI White 2000 None
IBM Harvard Mark I 1944 None Old Computers
IBM NORC 1954 None Wikipedia
IBM SSEC 1948 None Wikipedia
IBM System/3 1969 None Old Computers SIMH
IBM System/36 1983 None Open/36 - probably lost in history
Infinite36
IBM System370 / ESA390 1970 None Hercules
IBM z Systems 2000 None IBM Z Development and Test Environment
Hercules
IBM AS/400 / System i 1988 None BABY AS/2000 - probably lost in history
Infinite i
IBM RS/6000 / System p 1990 None
ICL 2900 Series 1974 None
ICL Series 39 1985 None
Intel ASCI Red 1997 None
Intel iPSC Series 1985 None
Intel Paragon 1992 None
Interdata (Perkin-Elmer) 16 & 32 bits Systems 1973 None SIMH
L A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Librascope AN/ASN-24 1958 None
Librascope L2010 1962 None
Librascope LGP-21 1962 None
Librascope LGP-30 1956 None
Librascope LGP-4000 1960 None
Lucasfilm EditDroid 1984 None
Lund University Smil 1956 None Wikipedia
SMILemu
M A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Manchester Atlas 1962 None Wikipedia
Manchester ENIAC 1945 None
Manchester Mark I 1949 None
Manchester SSEM (Baby) 1948 Good
Maspar MP-1 1990 None
Maspar MP-2 1992 None
Meiko Computing Surface 1986 None
Meiko CS-2 1993 None
MIT Whirlwind 1951 None Old Computers
MMN Bark 1950 None Wikipedia
MMN Besk 1953 None Wikipedia
N A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
NBS Seac 1950 None
NCR Century 8250 ~ 1970s None
nCUBE 2 1990 None
nCUBE/ten 1985 None
NEC System 3100 Series 1990 None A-VX01 Operating System for Windows (as compatibility layer)
IPSJ Museum
NEC Earth Simulator 2002 None
NEC SX series 1985 None
P A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Philips P/330 1978 None Old Computers
PLATO (computer system) 1960 None
Q A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Royal-Mcbee LGP-30 / LGP-21 1956 None
S A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Scientific Data Systems SDS 940 1966 None SIMH
Setun Ternary Computer 1958 None
SGI Altix 3000 Series 2003 None
SGI Origin 3000 2000 None
Stantec Zebra 1958 None ZEBRA emulator
Strela (ЭВМ Стрела) 1953 None
SWTPc S-Plus 1982 None
T A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Thinking Machines CM series 1987 None
Triumph Adler TA-1000 1973 None Old Computers
Turing Machine 1936 None Simulator
U A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Univac Larc 1960 None
University of Cambridge Edsac 1947 None Simulator, Edsac Replica Project
University of Illinois ILLIAC I 1952 None
X A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Xerox Sigma 9 1971 None Living Computers
Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Zuse Z1 1938 None Wikipedia
Zuse Z2 1940 None
Zuse Z3 1941 None Wikipedia
Zuse Z4 1945 None Wikipedia

References[edit]