Features of modern Mainframe Computers

Features of modern Mainframe Computers

The term “mainframe computer” is typically used to refer to that group of high-end self-contained computers. A single mainframe may execute the equivalent of 10 to 100 or even more distributed processors’ worth of business activity. The vast majority of mainframe computers have provided continual service measured in years and in many instances decades of non-stop functionality.

The following are the characteristics of modern mainframe computers :

Redundant Engineering

The major engineering feature of the modern mainframe computer that delivers is their considerable amount of redundant internal engineering. This is what gives mainframe computers their high reliability, tight security, extensive input/output facilities, strict backwards compatibility for older software, and high utilization rates (very little processing idle time) to support their characteristic massive throughput capabilities.

Hardware Servicing and Upgrades

In order for a mainframe computer to operate non-stop (run) for many years without interruption all repairs and hardware upgrades can and do take place during the normal operation of the mainframe computer. Once again this is another benefit that the inclusion of internal redundant hardware engineering makes possible.


Supercomputers; such as those at NASA’s Columbia Advanced Computing Facility have their performance measured in terms of the number of floating point operations per second (flops) of which it is capable.

The standard yardstick by which the computational performance of a mainframe computer is measured and subsequently compared with itself at other times or against other mainframes is the number of sustained Millions of Instructions per Second (MIPS) that it is capable of.

Processing Tasks

Mainframe computer processing has always tended to focus on problems which are limited by input/output and reliability (”throughput computing”) as well as solving multiple business problems concurrently.

The mainframe computer generally makes use of its parallel processing capacity to simultaneously run multiple different less complex concurrent tasks.

Hence, time has not changed much as the types of tasks that mainframe computers usually perform today still revolve around the so called “mission critical” operations that require much repetitive or parallel processing such as correlation of data collected during a census or a survey, statistical processing and analysis, financial transaction processing (banks) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).