Mainframe vs. Server: How Are They Different?


The main distinction between Mainframe vs. Server is that a server is a centralized storage place for programs, data, and information that controls access to the hardware, software, and other resources on a network. A mainframe is a big, costly, powerful computer capable of serving hundreds of thousands of people concurrently. Large quantities of data, algorithms, and information are stored on mainframes. This blog will elaborate on a mainframe vs. server.


A server is a network device that manages access to hardware, software, and other resources while also serving as a centralized storage place for programs, data, and information. At any given time, servers may host anything from two to thousands of computers.

Accessing data, information, and applications on a server is done using personal computers or terminals. A terminal is a computer that has a display,  memory, and keyboard.


A mainframe is a big, costly, and powerful computer capable of simultaneously serving hundreds or thousands of people. Large quantities of data, instructions, and information are stored on mainframes. For business purposes, mainframes are used by the majority of big businesses. Enterprises can use mainframes to bill millions of consumers, process payroll for thousands of employees, and handle inventory items. According to one research, mainframes handle more than 83 percent of global transactions.

A mainframe’s data and information can be accessed via servers and other mainframes. People can also use terminals or personal computers to access mainframe programs.

Mainframes are suitable for health care, schools, government organizations, energy utilities, manufacturing operations, enterprise resource planning, and online entertainment delivery. Mainframes are well-suited to the Internet of Things, including PCs, laptops, cellphones, automobiles, security systems, “smart” appliances, and utility grids. Here some of the questions are initiated. These are listed below:

  • What is a mainframe, exactly?
  • Is it simply a large computer?
  • Is this comparable to a supercomputer?

IBM z Systems server control over 90% of the mainframe market; for the sake of this article, we’ll refer to a mainframe computer as an IBM z Systems server. Once upon a time, the term “mainframe” referred to a massive computer capable of processing enormous workloads.

A mainframe computer is not the same as the x86/ARM hardware we use daily. Modern IBM z Systems servers are far smaller than previous mainframes, albeit they are still rather significant. They’re tough, durable, and secure, and they’re equipped with cutting-edge tech.

The mainframe can be thought of as a

  • computing style,
  • with centralized data storage,
  • resource management,
  • high-demand mission-critical services,
  • robust hot-swap hardware,
  • high security,
  • high availability,
  • massive transaction processing,
  • backward compatibility with older software,
  • and massive throughput.

Every component, including power supply, cooling, backup batteries, CPUs, I/O components, and cryptographic modules, has several levels of redundancy.

Mainframe vs Server

Here are five significant distinctions between commodity servers and mainframe computers. Commodity servers are very affordable, generally x86-based servers found in considerable numbers in today’s data centers.

Mainframe Server
1 Handle bigdata Handle the limited amount of data
2 Run unique software (sometimes) Run specific software
3 Bigger Smaller
4 Support unique use cases Supports different use cases
5 Costly Less costly


Mainframes are Bigger

  • A typical commodity server is physically smaller than your mainframe.
  • This isn’t because mainframe computers are enormous. Mainframe computers today are about the size of a refrigerator. They aren’t big enough to fill a whole room.
  • A server rack of the same size, however, might hold around a dozen affordable servers. Mainframes will almost certainly always be more significant than standard servers.

Mainframes Support Unique Use Cases

  • Mainframes are unique in that they are utilized in circumstances when commodity servers are unable to cope.
  • The capacity of mainframes to handle large numbers of transactions and their high dependability and support for a variety of workloads make them indispensable in a variety of sectors.
  • These companies may use both commodity servers and mainframes, but mainframes can cover gaps that other servers can’t.

Handle Bigdata

According to IBM, Z13 mainframes can manage 2.5 billion transactions per day. That’s a considerable quantity of data and throughput.

  • It’s challenging to make a direct comparison to commodity servers since the number of transactions they can support varies depending on what’s on the server in question furthermore, the sorts of transactions may be vastly different, making it impossible to compare apples to apples.
  • However, assuming that a typical database on a standard commodity server can handle 300 transactions per second, it works out to roughly 26 million transactions per day, a significant number, but nothing near the billions that a mainframe can handle.

Mainframes Run Unique Software (Sometimes)

Mainframes are generally driven by mainframe-specific programs written in languages like COBOL is a significant differentiating characteristic. They also use proprietary operating systems, such as z/OS.

  • Mainframe workloads cannot be moved to commodity servers.
  • You may, however, transfer tasks that would typically run on a commodity server to a mainframe. Virtualization allows most mainframes to run Linux as well as z/OS.
  • As a result, mainframes provide you with the best of both worlds: You’ll have access to a unique set of apps that you won’t find anywhere else, as well as the capacity to manage commodity server workloads.

Mainframes are Costly

A single mainframe can cost up to $75,000, considerably more than the two or three thousand dollars that a decent x86 server could cost.

Of course, this does not imply that mainframes are more costly over time. With a $75,000 mainframe, you’ll receive a lot more processing power than you would with a commodity server. Mainframes may save a lot of money if they’re used correctly.


As Amazon Associates, we may earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Virtual/Augmented Reality

How is VR Used in...

Virtual/Augmented Reality

How is Virtual Reality different...
home-icon-silhouette remove-button

Connect With Us