Talk:List of computer size categories

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Computing / Hardware (Rated List-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Computing, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of computers, computing, and information technology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 List  This article has been rated as List-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by Computer hardware task force (marked as Mid-importance).

Keep looking![edit]

Keep it up McNeight! I may disagree with some of your sorting, and occasionally re-sort them, but having all these labels pulled together in one place is Just So Much Fun! --Alvestrand 20:25, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

I'll try, but I really think I'm running out of obscure sizes. Are you interested in attempting to standardize some of these sizes? For example, set a specific definition of subnotebook and point all other references (like 'tweener' and 'Mini-PC') to it? Possibly even start categories for each size? McNeight 21:05, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
I think that's a good next step! - as indicated by the indentations on this page; we can work out an agreed grouping on this page, and when that's stable, we can go out and impose that on the referenced pages :-) --Alvestrand 00:22, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Works for me. I guess first of all, I'd like to double check the definitions against both the wiktionary, as well as Google and see which sub categories are actual categories (handheld device) and which are marketing terms (Handheld PC). McNeight 00:30, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Sounds good. The stuff that actually relates back to a definition in a document (like the Microsoft terms) should remain on their own pages, but the things that people seem to have used just for fun should be merged, I think. --Alvestrand 01:23, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I'll start posting references in here, and see if we can get to a standard. McNeight 01:38, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

This might help, I recently wrote it myself MID. Note this is a research I did by myself it is just a categorization I thought up as a guide. --Ramu50 (talk) 00:00, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Handheld device[edit]


Seems kinda broad at first glance (I searched here and got multiple links)

  • a computer small and light enough to be held in one hand. [1]
  • a type of computer which is small enough to fit in your hand [2]
  • A computer that is small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand. [3]
  • (possibly the best entry)
    • or hand-held personal computer, lightweight, small, battery-powered, general-purpose programmable computer. It typically has a miniaturized full-function, typewriterlike keyboard for input and a small, full color, liquid-crystal display for output. In addition to an operating system that is compatible with that of a desktop computer, a palmtop will typically contain a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a calendar and phone book. A variety of other programs can be loaded and executed, and data can usually be transferred to and from a desktop computer. Although some palmtops are like personal digital assistants in that they accept handwritten or touch screen input, they generally differ in that the palmtop has more memory, a keyboard, and a greater variety of available programs. [4]
  • "free" answer from FOLDOC
    • (Or "pocket computer", "Hand-held Personal Computer", H/PC) A small general-purpose, programmable, battery-powered computer cabable of handling both numbers and text (in contrast to most pocket calculators) which can be operated comfortably while held in one hand. A palmtop is usually loaded with an operating system such as Windows CE. Data can be transferred between the palmtop and a desktop PC.
    • A palmtop is very similar to a Personal Digital Assistant though a palmptop may have a larger keyboard and more RAM and is possibly more general purpose in concept, if not in practise. [5]

Any thoughts? McNeight 01:55, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Handheld computer[edit]

Perhaps even more vague?

  • A computer small enough to be held in one hand while being operated by the other hand. Handheld computers are commonly used in transportation and other field service industries. They are usually built to perform specific tasks. They often have restricted specialized keyboards rather than the standard QWERTY layout, smaller displays, input devices such as bar code readers, and communications devices for sending their data to a central computer; they rarely have disk drives. Their software is usually proprietary and stored in ROM. See also QWERTY keyboard, ROM. Compare handheld PC, PDA. [6]
  • held in the hand; especially : designed to be operated while being held in the hand [7]
  • A handheld computer is a computer that can conveniently be stored in a pocket (of sufficient size) and used while you're holding it. Today's handheld computers, which are also called personal digital assistants (PDAs), can be divided into those that accept handwriting as input and those with small keyboards. The original handheld that accepted handwriting was Apple's Newton, which was later withdrawn from the market. Today, the most popular handheld that accepts handwritten input is the PalmPilot from 3Com. Philips, Casio, NEC, Compaq, and other companies make handhelds with small keyboards. [8]

McNeight 02:11, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Personal digital assistant[edit]

  • GFDL from FOLDOC
    • A small hand-held computer typically providing calendar, contacts, and note-taking applications but may include other applications, for example a web browser and media player. Small keyboards and pen-based input systems are most commonly used for user input. [9]
  • A lightweight palmtop computer designed to provide specific functions like personal organization (calendar, note taking, database, calculator, and so on) as well as communications. More advanced models also offer multimedia features. Many PDA devices rely on a pen or other pointing device for input instead of a keyboard or mouse, although some offer a keyboard too small for touch typing to use in conjunction with a pen or pointing device. For data storage, a PDA relies on flash memory instead of power-hungry disk drives. See also firmware, flash memory, PC Card, pen computer. [10]
  • A lightweight, hand-held, usually pen-based computer used as a personal organizer. [11]
  • a small handheld computer with facilities for taking notes, storing information such as addresses, and keeping a calendar, usually operated using a stylus rather than a keyboard [12]
  • A lightweight, hand-held, usually pen-based computer used as a personal organizer. [13]
  • A computer small enough to fit in the palm of the hand or in a small pocket. Some models accept handwritten input; others are equipped with a small keyboard. Because of their small size, most PDAs do not include a disk drive. Their capabilities are therefore limited to scheduling, note-taking, simple calculations, and storing addresses and phone numbers, but some models include slots into which modems and other peripheral devices can be inserted to allow users to exchange e-mail, access the Web, and upload/download information. Synonymous with handheld computer, palmtop, and pocket computer. [14]

(some of these might be repeats from above) McNeight 02:23, 4 February 2006 (UTC)


  • A portable computer that is smaller than a notebook computer. [15]
  • a laptop computer smaller and lighter than a notebook, typically weighing less than 5 pounds (2.3 kg). [16]
  • A portable computer, usually a PC-compatible, that is smaller than a notebook computer but larger than a handheld computer. Subnotebooks often leave out features such as floppy disc and CD-ROM drives. One example is the Toshiba Libretto. [17]
  • A portable computer that is smaller and lighter than a conventional laptop computer. [18]

McNeight 02:31, 4 February 2006 (UTC)


  • This one and Mini-PC I was a little dubious about. Turns out that both articles were created on May 14, 2003. That same day, ZDNet published an article titled Not laptop, not PDA: Should you buy a tweener?. Google searches for "tweener" gives some... interesting definitions, and "tweener computer" gives the above article as the fourth hit. I say kill the definition. McNeight 02:58, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Can you give the exact article links or model number of the device not the homepage. Got no clue which devices are you even referring to. --Ramu50 (talk) 22:14, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Regarding workstations, servers and mainframes[edit]

I believe that workstations and servers are classes of computers, not sizes.

For example, consider the IBM Power 595. It is a server, is it not? From the page, IBM seems to think so, and it certainly fits the definition of a server, with that being a computer that provides a service(s) to client(s). Now, consider the IBM Power 520. This too is a server, is it not? IBM thinks so, and it fits the definition.

However, the Power 595 is not a desktop. It is nowhere near a desktop. It is a rackmount (IBM-speak: framemount) server, as evidenced by its dimensions: (201.4 cm x 77.5 cm x 180.6 cm); and weight: (1,552 kg). I will personally give anyone who can fit this on an average office desk from Ikea, a cookie.

Now, the Power 520 is not a rackmount server. It is nowhere near a rackmount server. It is a deskside server, as evidenced by its dimensions: (540 mm x 182-328 mm x 628 mm); and weight: (40.8 kg). I will personally give anyone who can convince a Fortune 500 company that the Power 520 is a top-of-the-line rackmount server, a cookie.

Two very different machines, both in hardware and form factor, but they are still both classed as a server. Clearly, as evidenced by this, servers can be in many form factors. A server can be a desktop, but it is not exclusively a desktop. How the article is currently written seems to suggest that it is. A server can also be a rackmount, a tower, a blade, a deskside and a pedestal, to name a few.

Workstations also come in more form factors than just desktop. Many servers are desktops (as in horizontal) and are small and light enough to be placed on a desk (the second, more historical definition of a desktop). However, they can also be in a deskside, tower, rackmountable or pedestal form factor, just to name a few.

This can be remedied by not using classes to determine size. Instead, use form factors such as blade, rackmount, deskside, etc. Rilak (talk) 11:43, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

What do you want to change?
Personally, I think your description of the 595 fits with what used to be called a minicomputer, but since minicomputers aren't sexy any more, IBM calls it a server.
I don't think making "server" a subcategory of "desktop" makes sense. Perhaps that group of categories should have a different name, with "desktop" being one of its members? --Alvestrand (talk) 14:05, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

I think that the microcomputer, home computer, personal computer, workstation and server entries should be removed from desktop computer. We should then add the following: blade, deskside (if an article for it exists), tower, pedestal (if an article for it exists) and rackmount/rack unit (as these two are closely related). Further more, minicomputer, mainframe and supercomputer should be removed as these are classes, not sizes. PDPs, VAXen, Z10s and the Roadrunner are all mounted in racks/cabinets. I assume that "size" in the context of this article refers to physical size, and not capabilities - if it does refer to capabilities, consider changing the definition of "size" to mean dimensions as the size of a computer generally determines its capabilities, but not exclusively. Rilak (talk) 06:27, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

I think the point of the article (if it has a point; I'm not sure) is to point out that there are many labels that roughly correlate to "size", and that there's no single way of fitting them in a simple rank order. "Supercomputer" does belong, I think - at the moment, it's the only kind of computer that regularly fills rooms. --Alvestrand (talk) 07:43, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
I suppose so, even though they are packaged in racks that are placed in a room. Perhaps an expansion is would be more appropriate. Each form factor would list what kind of computers use them. That won't really fit in with the mobile section though - the only computer to use the subnotebook form factor is a subnotebook. Rilak (talk) 08:12, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
I've attempted to improve the article by listing actual computer form factors, not classes of. I don't think that this is an ideal solution, but it does remove some of the misinformation, as extensively discussed above. One part of the problem is that you can never have an idealized list where everything fits in perfectly. I propose splitting this article into sections that deal with a particular time in computing history, as sizes become obsolete and different classes use different form factors while at the same time providing comparisons for each, eg. a minicomputer is roughly equivalent in size to a rackmount/framemount server. What does everyone think? Rilak (talk) 09:18, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
I think this looks like a reasonable attempt; however, I dropped "supercomputer" from the "deskside" and "rackmount" classes - while supercomputers are usually (not always) rack-mounted, they usually consist of several racks, they aren't mounted in one. --Alvestrand (talk) 11:46, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks! But what I don't understand is reason why everyone objects to supercomputers being rackmounted. They do take up multiple racks, but that doesn't make them something else, for they are still mounted in racks. It is also strange that people do not object to servers being classified as rackmounts, as they also take up multiple racks like supercomputers, eg. SGI Altix 4700, HP Superdome, Fujitsu/Sun SPARC Enterprise M9000. Speaking of desksides, if I am not mistaken, entry-level supercomputers such as the SGI Onyx existed as deskside units. Also, perhaps a new term, cabinet should be added to differentiate standard 19/21-inch racks from custom ones. Rilak (talk) 12:38, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
I think of "rackmount" as "something you put in a rack". Many of the servers I've dealt with over the years have been rackmounts; many have not - so I don't mind seeing people want to put servers under both "rackmount" and other places. I haven't yet worked with a server that took up more than one rack - but all the supercomputers I've seen have taken up multiple racks. (Of course, many supercomputers are "servers" in a sense too - if you want to be pedantic in that direction... but that's not their defining characteristic). BTW - the SGI Onyx article doesn't mention the word "supercomputer" - do you have a reference for that appellation? --Alvestrand (talk) 18:46, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
SGI literature described the Onyx as a ¨graphics supercomputer¨. Knowing how some editors here don´t seem to understand historical contexts, I described it with a still-applicable modern term - ¨visualization system¨, although I must admit that the Onyx is a bad example, deskside Onyxs were not exactly supercomputer-like apart from the fact that they were built on the same architecture. I´ll get a reference for it anyways once I get back to my computer. So what´s the direction we are taking? Supercomputers are mostly clusters of servers, mounted in a rack, but ¨supercomputer¨ is not a form factor, rackmount is... Btw, someone should add the ¨pizza box¨ and ¨lunchbox¨ form factors with workstations and PCs as examples of such systems.

I think it obscures rather than clarifies to have server and workstation duplicated under the various physical packaging items (especially since some of those packagings don't even have an article). Servers in particular often describe a function, rather than a form.

It would be clearer and more consistent with the usage in the related articles to make workstation and server items under minicomputer.

  • "A workstation, such as a Unix workstation, RISC workstation or engineering workstation, is a high-end microcomputer" - workstation).
  • "More modern terms for minicomputer-type machines include midrange systems (IBM parlance), workstations (Sun Microsystems and general UNIX/Linux parlance), and servers." - minicomputer

The packaging thing appears to be a somewhat separate hierarchy, that overlaps the functional terminology. I think interleaving the terms rather than duplicating them in hierarchy would be clearer. I tried rearranging the items a bit per the descriptions given in the related articles. Putting rack computer and deskside about where the dividers would probably be. (i.e. things above the rack line probably involve multiple racks, or rooms/whole buildings devoted to them).

Also rearranged the hierarchy in microcomputers. Strictly it looks like Personal computer should include most everything from desktops to laptops to PDAs, but I am not sure that adding the extra indents would help clarity. Zodon (talk) 09:32, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

Size versus Type versus Processor Power versus ?[edit]

Just what does "by size" mean? There are so many other criteria utilized that I'm not exactly sure of the arrangement offered here. The best way to categorize computers is to stick with the general traditional types; super, mainframe, mini, and micro. These are then broken down into sub-categories. The size of the Microsoft Surface computer is still a sub-category of micro. Its exorbitant size is only because of the monitor portion. Most do not have monitors, unless they are some sort of portable micro computer. IMHO, this article should be by type, and then sub-type or -category. - KitchM (talk) 07:09, 22 May 2010 (UTC)