Mainframes can be termed as personal computers, but personal computers cannot be termed as mainframes. Mainframes are specifically designed for performing critical tasks that need massive amounts of data stored in disks. Large companies use mainframes to process applications such as payrolls, accounting, business proceedings, data retrieval, reservation of seats, computing calculations of scientific related researches. Mainframes are operated remotely with dumb terminals.
Whereas personal computers are designed for a single person to work at a time on it. It consists of several components such as CPU (containing 3 units – Arithmetic, logic, and integrated circuit), types of Memory elements, input/output devices – keyboard, display unit/monitor, printer, mouse etc.
For centralized environment, mainframes are used and users access mainframe through a workstation which is a dumb terminal, but real computing will done on mainframe. Large transactions are processed in batches by large organizations with the help of mainframes. Mainframe doesn’t allow any malicious attacks and thus they are more secure. Whereas PCs lead to virus attacks and crash when you try to work applications of large size. Multiple users can access data simultaneously using mainframes without any downtime at higher speed levels.
Personal computers evolved from mainframes, but these computers can be used to access information on mainframe for smaller portions. Both can perform calculations but their scalability levels differ. Personal computers fit for personal needs whereas mainframes fit for major businesses needs.
Speed, cost and reliability are the three factors that differentiate between the two types of computers.