Chapter 3 Computer Hardware
Systems. Major types of computer systems are summarized in Figure 3.2. Microcomputers are used as personal computers, network
computers, personal digital assistants, technical workstations, and information appliances. Midrange systems are increasingly
used as powerful network servers, and for many multi-user business data processing and scientific applications. Mainframe
computers are larger and more powerful than most midsize systems. They are usually faster, have more memory capacity, and
can support more network users and peripheral devices. They are designed to handle the information processing needs of large
organizations with high volumes of transaction processing, or with complex computational problems. Supercomputers are a special
category of extremely powerful mainframe computer systems designed for massive computational assignments.
Computer Systems Concept. A computer is a system of information processing components that perform input, processing, output,
storage, and control functions. Its hardware components include input and output devices, a central processing unit (CPU),
and primary and secondary storage devices. The major functions and hardware in a computer system are summarized in Figure
Devices. Refer to Figures 3.12 and 3.20 to review the capabilities of peripheral devices for input, output, and storage discussed
in this chapter.
Chapter 3: Q & A:
1. What trends are
occurring in the development and use of the major types of computer systems?
Computers are becoming physically smaller,
faster, more memory, cheaper, more reliable and user friendly, and are increasingly being connected via telecommunications
links through organizations.
2. Will the convergence of PDAs, sub-notebook PCs,
and cell phones produce an information appliance that will make all of
those categories obsolete? Why or why not?
There is probably no doubt that the convergence of
PDAs, sub-notebook PCs, and cell phones will produce an information appliance that will make all of those categories obsolete. As more powerful appliances capable of completing multiple tasks are developed, there
will definitely be a trend toward converging of this technology into a single appliance.
Users do not want to carry around 4 or 5 different appliances when one would do the trick. For example, it only stands to reason that an individual will not want to carry around a pager, cell phone,
GPS, laptop, or a variety of other hardware devices if all of the features could be integrated into one small appliance such
as the PDA.
3. Refer to the Real World Case on Progressive Insurance and UniFirst in the chapter.
Should Progressive replace much of their IRV hardware devices with a combination cell phone, PDA, and digital camera?
Why or why not?
Hardware replacement decisions should include these issues:
· If all necessary information to settle
a claim may not be available to the claims reps will different hardware devices improve customer relations, make the claims
reps more productive, and enable Progressive to settle claims faster?
· Will the ability of Progressive’s
supervisory staff to verify data lead to higher error occurrence rates related to incorrect claims settlements?
· Will the use of a combination cell phone,
PDA and digital camera enable Progressive to further reduce costs?
· Will the use of a combination cell phone,
PDA and digital camera result in Progressive experiencing an increase in inefficiency when the device goes down and existing
alternatives are not available?
4. Do you think that information appliances like PDAs
will replace personal computers (PCs) in business applications? Explain.
Answers could include
the following considerations by the students:
· Mobility needs of the workers within the company.
· Nature of the company within its industry that determines the type of technology which best meets the needs
of given employee groups.
· The IT trend is toward smart gadgets and information appliances; thus changing the nature of most business
5. Are networks of PCs
and servers making mainframe computers obsolete? Explain.
Networked microcomputers are often the better alternative to larger
single computer systems, providing many of the same advantages, and easier access and more personal control. However, there are still many tasks that require the memory capacity and number crunching power of modern
mainframe computers, such as running mathematical models for weather forecasting. Minicomputers
are often more economical than multiple micros in business environments that have teams working together on projects and require
control of access to databases and ongoing projects. The distinction between
micro- and minicomputers, however, is becoming increasingly fuzzy.
6. Refer to the Real World Case on Delta and Northwest airlines in the chapter.
What are several other present or potential business applications for self-service networked kiosks? What are their
business benefits and limitations? Give several examples.
Present or potential business applications for self-service networked kiosks may include:
· Expanding the kiosks to include business
partners such as vehicle rentals and room reservations – enhancing the value chain.
· Enhancing the kiosks to permit customers
to conduct other business activities such as message retrieval.
· Allowing customers to initiate other
service requests from other businesses operating in the same physical location. Generate
a food selection request to permit food service in an airport to be faster – “order to go” service.
· Giving customers a method to more easily
plan activities by providing information regarding their destination in terms of entertainment, restaurants, theatre, etc.
7. What are several trends that are occurring in the
development and use of peripheral devices? Why are these trends occurring?
Trends in I/O devices are to more user friendliness. This includes direct I/O wherever feasible, increased use of voice I/O, and better quality printed output. Trends in secondary storage devices are to increase use of optical disks, higher capacity
magnetic disks, and small but high-capacity magnetic tape cartridges for backup storage.
8. What are several important computer hardware developments that you expect to happen in the next
ten years? How will these affect the business use of computers?
Hardware development may include:
· A growth in the type and usage of smart
gadgets and information appliances for input and output purposes will increase.
· Hardware devices will be more powerful
in terms of processing speed and capacity.
· Wireless devices will become the standard
or norm for many businesses.
· A reduction on the dependency on keyboards
and mouse type technology as businesses currently use such technology.
· Storage will improve in terms of media
and capacity and with a related reduced cost.
9. What processor, memory, magnetic disk storage, and
video display capabilities would you require for a personal computer that you would use for business purposes? Explain your choices.
Students’ responses will vary. However,
when a machine is used for business purposes the answer should identify requirements such as the need for large capacity hard
drives, Jaz or ZIP drives, peripherals such as a need for an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, DVD or CD devices, scanners, faster-state
of the art high speed processors such as the Pentium III chips, memory capacity large enough to handle the demands of the
software and the operating system. Also, they should specify the requirements
of a good video display with a high performance video card capable of handling the requirements of the software and the demands
of the job.
10. What other peripheral devices and capabilities would you
want to have for your business PC? Explain.
vary. There are so many peripherals available today that a complete answer to
this question is impossible. The wish list simply goes on and on and the possibilities
are seemingly endless.