What is the definition of the term "small systems" in the context of computer science? My professor didn't really define the term, they just gave examples of some small systems. I'm having a hard time finding a concrete definition of the term online. This is not a homework question. I just want to know the definition so I can better understand the course.

  • $\begingroup$ Please report those examples, otherwise we are in a total darkness. $\endgroup$
    – user16034
    Feb 10, 2023 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ The examples given were a hardware firewall, a Small Form Factor Desktop PC, a Raspberry Pi, a "Temperature Guard" device, Smart Plugs, Hard drives and SSDs, a Network to Serial Interface, an Internet Port Sharing module, Cable/DSL Router, an original Pentium processor, and a Managed Switch. $\endgroup$
    – Sega dude
    Feb 10, 2023 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ So the border seems to be "device consuming less than a modern desktop PC", though power consumption might not be the only criterion. $\endgroup$
    – user16034
    Feb 10, 2023 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ Would be interesting to know what a "large" system would then be. Would a computing cluster or other distributed system with the associated (differences in) latencies be required, or something like that? (It's also relatively interesting that some elements in that list include others: e.g. an SFF desktop usually contains a hard drive or an SSD, and a processor (though likely a bigger one than the original Pentium). And why an SFF desktop in particular, as if they didn't use the same parts as larger ones do, perhaps apart from discrete GPU cards...) $\endgroup$
    – ilkkachu
    Mar 12, 2023 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


There is not a precise, standard, accepted definition of that phrase. What counts as "small" is likely a subjective matter, and probably depends on context.


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