Difference between Computer and Supercomputer

Key Difference: A computer is a general purpose programmable machine which carries out arithmetic and logical operations according to a specified set of instructions. Supercomputers are types of computers which possess the best processing capacity, and therefore are expensive than other types of computers.

Many people have defined computer in different ways. However, they all refer to a machine which has become a landmark in the achievements of the mankind. The Techencyclopedia (2003) defines computer as “a general purpose machine that processes data according to a set of instructions that are stored internally either temporarily or permanently.”

This electronic device’s capabilities have extended over the years. It can effectively manipulate data or information. A computer is capable of accepting data and then certain actions are performed by it according to the provided instructions, and then at last it produces results. It can perform almost all types of arithmetic and logical operations.  Following hardware components are required in order to construct a general purpose computer –

  • Central Processing Unit – it is the main component of the computer which executes instructions
  • Memory – it stores data program and intermediate results
  • Mass storage device – large amounts of data and programs can be stored permanently
  • Input device – usually a keyboard or mouse; using these devices one enters the data and instructions in a computer
  • Output Device : an device to see the results achieved by the computer. For example – a display screen, printer, etc.

Supercomputers are types of computers which are known to be the fastest and biggest machines today. They are capable of carrying our billion or even trillion of calculations. These computers were introduced in the 1960s. They can be seen as a system of many computers which are working together. Normally, size of a supercomputer is nearly equivalent to the size of a room. 

Due to their extraordinary capabilities, supercomputers are very expensive. Supercomputers are faster than conventional computers due to a specifically designed memory hierarchy. These computers are not used for carrying out transaction processes. Architecture of supercomputers is far more advanced than other types of computers.

A normal PC is capable of executing multiple programs concurrently. On the other hand, supercomputers have been designed to execute few programs but as fast as possible. 'Computer' the term is usually associated with any general purpose type of computer, whereas supercomputers are highly specialized computers. Supercomputers work in a controlled environment.

Comparison between Computer and Supercomputer:





A general purpose programmable machine which carries out arithmetic and logical operations according to a specified set of instructions.

An extremely fast computer capable of performing hundreds of millions of instructions per second.


Personal computers include motherboard, CPU, memory (or RAM), hard drive, and video card.

A supercomputer includes processors, memory, I/O system, and an interconnect.



Mainframe computer is a computer used for critical applications which includes bulk data processing, enterprise resource planning and transaction processing

Deep Blue is a famous chess-playing supercomputer

Application Areas

Education, health and medicine, to keep inventory report, ticket booking, account and administration, teaching learning tool, hotel management, banking and finance sector, etc.

Nuclear weapon development, accurate weather forecasting, host processes for a local computer, etc.


  • Super Computers
  • Mainframe Computer
  • Mini computers
  • Micro Computers
  • Micro computers are further divided into desktop computers, laptop computers and handheld computers.

There are many different types of supercomputers –

  • Vector machines
  • Parallel computers
  • Cluster

Image Courtesy: worldinfo4u.com, irfancomputers.blogspot.com

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