Two popular benchmark suites are SPECint2000 and SPECfp2000. Both are produced by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) ( SPECint2000 includes 12 integer codes, and SPECfp200 has 14 floating-point benchmarks. Below, we use SPEC data to examine computer-performance trends over the last 2 decades. The results are valuable, but their absolute numbers should be regarded as rough approximations of systems’ absolute performance. Nevertheless, they are much better than results based on “peak rate,” which gives a computer’s speed when it is doing nothing.

Figures A.1 (INT) and A.2 (FP) display results for SPECint2000 and SPECfp2000, respectively. The X axes give the years from 1985 or 1988 to 2007. The logarithmic Y axes give the SPEC rate normalized to circa 1985. Thus, a value of 10 means that the computer is 10 times faster than (can execute the work in one-tenth the time of) a 1985 model.

The Figures A.1 and A.2 reveal two trends. First, computer performance has improved exponentially (linearly on a semilogarithmic plot) for most years under study. In particular, until 2004 or so, both SPECint2000 and SPECfp2000 improved at a compound annual rate exceeding 50% (for example, a factor of 100 in about 10 years).

Second, the performance improvements after 2004 have been poorer.


FIGURE A.1 Integer application performance (SPECint2000) over time (1985-2010).

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