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Evaluate the resources available in a variety of computer systems. (JSR note, so what is meant here also is resources like HD space and RAM available in systems from super computer to cellular phone.)


Teaching Note:

These should include: mainframes, servers, PCs, sub-laptops, as well as personal digital devices such as cell phones, PDAs and digital cameras.

AIM 9 Develop an appreciation of the issues linked to resource availability with continued developments in computer systems.


All you really need to focus on:

What are the VARIOUS COMPUTER SYSTEMS ? Server, laptop, etc.


JSR: So for a digital camera to be used in a certain context, what ***should*** it have for specs?

Jose: The idea that gaming computers are pretty well the only thing that major specs are important for. What else needs both a high powered CPU and a high powered GPU?? And the idea that gaming is what is keeping desktop market alive.

So should/could do a gaming computer, versus an animating or CAD computer below...

How about add an autonomous car to the list below too...

And depending on the device, is/can be the graphics card integrated into the CPU??


Sample Question:


Sample Question Paper 1 - 2014:


JSR Notes:


(First, a) General Description of Each

Super Computer is not listed in the Teaching Note, but:

IBM Blue Gene P Supercomputer
(Wikimedia.org: 1024px-IBM_Blue_Gene_P_supercomputer.jpg)


Mainframes - large, expensive server-like machines to which many computers or "thin client" ("dumb") terminals connect. Those thin clients have some or all of their processing and storage done on the mainframe. A common example of where you will find mainframes is at university campuses to which the various labs connect. This arrangement has the advantage that when applications are fixed or updated, it need only be done once on the mainframe. Furthermore, the mainframe will be very powerful, and so even the most complex jobs can be done from any of the labs' thin clients.


From Mainframes.com:
"Mainframe computers (colloquially referred to as "big iron") are computers used primarily by corporate and governmental organizations for critical applications, bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning and transaction processing."


Mainframe Computer (By Nakrut - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,



Servers - "server" is a very general term for any computer machine which "serves" another. But typically, a server will be a powerful computer locked away in an air conditioned room, with no dedicated monitor or keyboard, which servers up one or more specific services, such as e-mail or various databases, such as at a school, student information database, business office database, and grades database (the PowerSchool server in our case).

Client vs. server: A server is a network computer that contains resources which are shared with other computers on the network. A computer that is being served with these resources is called a client.

Advantages to Organizations:

Specialized software enables a server to perform various functions including the following:

You'll note that with the trend toward outsourcing and saving to "the cloud", locally based servers are playing less and less of a role in organizations such as schools and businesses.

One server rack (Wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f5/Rack001.jpg)
Server room (cdn2.itpro.co.uk/sites/itpro/files/server_room.jpg)

Note that a big, general difference between mainframes and servers is that mainframes are more for processing of data and servers are more for passing back and forth data.



PCs - "PC" stands for "personal computer", and usually what we mean by this is a stand-alone desktop computer, complete with separate monitor and keyboard and mouse etc.

Before the advent of PCs, computing was done by individuals only at the terminals of mainframe computers, such as those found in universities. But in the early 80s companies like IBM and Apple were able to reduce the size and cost of computers to be affordable to individuals for home or office use.

Initially, the term "PC" was a shortcut for "IBM-compatible PC", versus the Apple Macintosh. But now, when people use the term PC they are referring to both Windows based and Mac OS based computers, along with the other kinds of personal computers such as those running the Linux or Unix operating systems



Laptops - Not mentioned in the Teaching Note, but:
A laptop is a personal computer that can be easily carried and can generally run the same software as desktop computers (PCs).

By Daniel Sone (photographer) Public Domain 



Sub-laptops - This term is no longer much used. This category of machine was termed "netbook" over the past number of years, but netbooks have for the most part been supplanted by tablet computers lately. The Chromebook is an example of a netbook which is primarily to be used with the Cloud.

Smaller and lighter than a typical laptop, so have main advantage of portability

Less processing power than a laptop or PC

But can still run full operating systems like Windows, rather than specialized PDA OSs such as Palm.


Laptop and Sub-laptop and ??



Cell phones - any personal wireless phone, with smart phones being a category of them.

Also called cellular phone, mobile phone, smart phone

Motorola developed the first mobile phone in 1973

Can now do just about anything a PC can do, including:

Cell Phones
(By Android Open Source project, licensed under CC BY 2.5)



PDAs - "PDA" stands for "personal digital assistant", and is an older term very much associated with the former PDA devices produced by the company "Palm". They were the pre-cursor to smart phones.

The pre-cursor to the smart phone, but it was not a phone

Specialized in personal information organization, such as appointments, contacts, and calendars

Term first coined in 1992 to describe the Apple Newton

Palm was the marquee company of the (short-lived) PDA era


Palm PDAs
( CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org)



Digital cameras - any camera which includes digital processing, whether or not using SLR (single lens reflex) conventional lens technology.

Epson Rangefinder Digital Camera
(CC BY-SA 2.0, commons.wikimedia.org)