What is Mainframe System?

Mainframes (often colloquially referred to as Big Iron) are computers used mainly by large organizations for critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, ERP and financial transaction processing.

The term probably had originated form the early mainframes, as they were house in enormous, room-sized metal boxes or frames. Later the term was used to distinguish high-end commercial machines from less powerful units.

Today in practice, the term usually refers to computers compatible with IBM System/360 line, first introduced in 1965. (IBM system z10 is the latest incarnation.) Otherwise, large systems that are not based on the System/360 are referred to as either "servers" or "supercomputers". However "server", "supercomputer" and "mainframe" are not synonymous.

Some non-System/360-compatible systems derived from or compatible with older (pre-Web) server technology may also be considered mainframes. These include the Burroughs large systems, the UNIVAC 1120/2200 series systems and the pre-System/360 IBM 700/7000 series. Most large-scale computer system architectures were firmly established in the 1960s and most large computers were based on architecture established during that era up until the advent of web servers in the 1990s. (Interestingly, the first web server anywhere outside Switzerland ran on an IBM mainframe at Stanford University as early as 1990.)

There were several minicomputer operating systems and architectures that arose in the 1970s and 1980s, but minicomputers are generally not considered mainframes.

Many defining characteristics of "mainframes" were established in the 1960s, nut those characteristics continue to expand and evolve to the present day.


Edited  Jul 31, 05:10 pm

Article tags

Google login
SignUp with Email