How to Build a Mainframe

By Techwalla Computers Editor

Mainframes are powerful, special purpose computers run mainly by large organizations that process large volumes of data such as census or financial transactions. They're built to be reliable, secure and capable of supporting enormous input/output rates and can operate as multiple virtual servers. They're too much for home and very expensive. To build one from a home PC is extremely difficult; it may be easier to buy a new one.

Step 1

Build the motherboard. Convert your home system into a multiprocessor platform to give it mainframe-class performance. Build it into a 64-bit system if it isn't one. Add to it 8 gigabytes of RAM.

Step 2

Add to it an older tape drive such as the 3490. Attach it to the cable and binder twine on the motherboard.

Step 3

Attach disk drives with at least five new modes. Different disk drives are meant for different functions.

Step 4

Install several operating systems. You might start with z/OS, z800 and Linux. Linux, being open source, is freely downloadable.

Step 5

Connect an input console to the system. In the case of the mainframe, it means a display monitor and keyboard combination. This is the instrument panel that allows the user to interact with the mainframe.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can avoid all this trouble by simply buying the z/OS operating system and emulating a mainframe by using Hercules in your Windows PC.
  • It may be very difficult to find old tape drives.
  • Ensure the tape drive isn't pirated, as pirated tape drives may hamper functioning.
  • You may need a C/C++ compiler to configure the z/OS operating system.