Computer Center

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computer center

[kəm′pyüd·ər ‚sen·tər]
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Computer Center


an enterprise designed to perform complex and labor-consuming computational work using electronic computers. A distinction is made among general-purpose computer centers, computer centers for processing economic information, and computer centers for controlling manufacturing processes.

A general-purpose computer center performs mathematical, scientific-technical, and economic calculations, as well as operations dealing with the programming of problems. It also assists in formulating and preparing problems and carries on consultations on questions of the organization of users’ own computer centers or laboratories. It also conducts scientific research work in the field of automation of programming and numerical methods of mathematical and technical digital computer operation.

Computer centers for processing economic information are usually the central elements of automated control systems for enterprises or sectors of the national economy and are administratively subordinate to the corresponding control bodies (ministries, central boards, plant managements, and so on). These computer centers perform regulated work on plan calculations, processing of reports, financial and book-keeping calculations, and also single technical and economic calculations. To perform this work, such computer centers constantly store large volumes of normative and reference data (in the form of machine archives). Reports and other data from enterprises arrive in the form of ordinary documents on punched cards and tape or on magnetic tapes or along communications channels with direct input to the computer (for urgent operational information). Automatic readers of specially prepared printed text (written with magnetic or graphite markings) are widely used for feeding economic in-formation to the electronic computer.

Computer centers for controlling production processes work in real time, automatically receiving raw data from a large number of sensors of the parameters of processes and issuing control instructions (in a rigidly assigned cycle) to the operating members (propulsion, heating, and other units). Special requirements for speed and reliability of operation are demanded of these computer centers.

Depending on the volume of work, the three types of computer centers may have various equipment and may be distinguished according to their productivity. Three categories of computer centers are distinguished. The first category includes centers that have six to eight large digital computers with speeds of 20,000-50,000 operations per second (the Minsk-32, M-220, BESM-4, and so on) or two to three computers with speeds of 600,000-800,000 operations per second (the BESM-6). In addition, these computer centers have six to eight systems of punched card equipment, keyboard computers, document duplicating equipment, and communications equipment. A computer center of the first category has 50-100 scientific workers, 100-200 engineers, and 200-300 technicians, laboratory workers, and auxiliary workers. A second-category computer center has approximately one-half of the equipment and personnel of the first-category center, and the third-category computer center has about one-third. In certain cases the equipment of the computer center includes analog computers, which are designed primarily to solve problems of modeling dynamic processes (rocket flights, the operation of power systems, and so on).

The computer centers discussed above are distinguished according to structure. The general-purpose computer center has three primary subdivisions: a sector for mathematical preparation of problems and programming; a sector for the technical operation of electronic computers; and a sector for auxiliary operations (punching, duplication, power supply, and material support). A computer center for processing economic information has subdivisions that are specialized according to the types of economic problems (planning of production, material-technical supply, financial and bookkeeping service, and so on), as well as subdivisions for receiving all input information and for sorting results. In addition, these computer centers usually have specialized subdivisions for product classifiers, for managing the norm system, and for collecting and processing operational information arriving through communications channels (the so-called automated data control point).

Computer centers for controlling production processes do not have large subdivisions of programmers or economists, since the sets of problems and programs of these centers are predetermined and do not change during the process of operation. Here most of the employees are engineers and technicians who run the computers and equipment for automatic communications with the controlled systems.

High-capacity computer systems that include several machines working jointly, with so-called multiprogram control, are finding extensive application. Such systems can solve several problems simultaneously and are able to receive and issue data to many subscribers at great distances from the computer center along communications channels. Where such systems are used at computer centers, they acquire a multipurpose nature—that is, they can perform the jobs of all three types of computer centers with equal efficiency. Systems for the automation of programming, which make possible a sharp reduction in the time and labor required to prepare problems, and the so-called operations systems, which are special programs that control the order of work of the computing systems during the process of solving many problems, are of great significance in this case. This is important because manual programming and control of the operation of computer systems reduce their efficiency. Efficient use of computer centers equipped with high-capacity systems is possible with the creation of a uniform state network of computer systems, each of which serves a rather large group of enterprises in a particular region or branch of the economy. Descriptions of problems and information flows, standard sets of equipment, and technological systems for the operation of the computer complex serve as the raw data for planning computer centers.

The concrete characteristics, stages of building and introduction into service, capital expenditures, and economic efficiency of a computer center are determined during the planning process.


Kitov, A. I., and N. A. Krinitskii. Elektronnye tsifrovye mashiny i programmirovante, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1961.
Rapoport, E. N. Organizatsiia vychislitel’nogo tsentra na mashinostroitel’nom predpriiatii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Loskutov, V. I. Vychislitel’nye tsentry. Moscow, 1966.
Tipovoi sostav tekhnicheskogo zadaniia na proektirovanie vychislitel’nykh tsentrov i metodicheskie ukazaniia po sostavleniiu tekhnicheskikh zadanii. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A facility that holds servers and related network equipment. The millions of servers employed by search engines and cloud computing providers are all housed in datacenters. Any mention of "the cloud" implies a datacenter somewhere, which typically has extremely tight security and may be built to withstand natural disasters. Housed in racks, large cloud computing datacenters contain tens of thousands of servers (see rack mounted and cloud computing).

Under the Ocean!
China is experimenting with an under-the-sea datacenter because ocean water is expected to be much more economical to cool the equipment. Planned for completion in the 2025 time frame, the rather small datacenter (4,000 servers) will be built off the southern island province of Hainan.

Early Datacenters
Up until the 1990s, a company's internal datacenter often included a data library for offline disks and tapes, as well as a control section that accepted work from and released output to user departments. See server farm, darkened datacenter, datacenter container, raised floor, KyotoCooling, NOC and data library.

What a Datacenter Looks Like
Today's datacenters, which contain racks of servers, are often devoid of humans except for installations and repairs. A control room manned by people may be near or far, but the servers themselves are often in rooms with dim lights or lights off. See rack mounted.

A Cold War Granite Bunker Datacenter
Housed in the former Pionen civil defense center 100 feet below Vita Berg park in Stockholm, Bahnhof AB offers Internet access and a variety of cloud services in one of the world's most unique and secure datacenters. (Image courtesy of Bahnhof, AB,
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