Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation
SPEC Organizational Information
The System Performance Evaluation Cooperative, now named the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC), was founded in 1988 by a small number of workstation vendors who realized that the marketplace was in desperate need of realistic, standardized performance tests. The key realization was that an ounce of honest data was worth more than a pound of marketing hype.
SPEC has grown to become one of the more successful performance standardization bodies with more than 60 member companies. SPEC publishes several hundred different performance results each quarter spanning a variety of system performance disciplines.
The goal of SPEC is to ensure that the marketplace has a fair and useful set of metrics to differentiate candidate systems. The path chosen is an attempt to balance requiring strict compliance and allowing vendors to demonstrate their advantages. The belief is that a good test that is reasonable to utilize will lead to a greater availability of results in the marketplace.
The basic SPEC methodology is to provide the benchmarker with a standardized suite of source code based upon existing applications that has already been ported to a wide variety of platforms by its membership. The benchmarker then takes this source code, compiles it for the system in question and then can tune the system for the best results. The use of already accepted and ported source code greatly reduces the problem of making apples-to-oranges comparisons.
SPEC is a non-profit corporation whose membership is open to any company or organization that is willing to support our goals (and pay our nominal dues). Originally just a bunch of people from workstation vendors devising CPU metrics, SPEC has evolved into an umbrella organization encompassing four diverse groups.
The OSG is the original SPEC committee. This group focuses on benchmarks for desktop systems, high-end workstations and servers running open systems environments.
The HPG is a forum for establishing, maintaining and endorsing a suite of benchmarks that represent high-performance computing applications for standardized, cross-platform performance evaluation.
These benchmarks target high performance system architectures, such as symmetric multiprocessor systems, workstation clusters, distributed memory parallel systems, and traditional vector and vector parallel supercomputers.
SPEC/GWPG is the umbrella organization for project groups that develop consistent and repeatable graphics and workstation performance benchmarks and reporting procedures. SPEC/GWPG benchmarks are worldwide standards for evaluating performance in a way that reflects user experiences with popular applications.
GWPG Project Groups
The RG is a new group within SPEC created to promote innovative research on benchmarking methodologies and tools facilitating the development of benchmark suites and performance analysis frameworks for established and newly emerging technologies. It is designed to encourage exchange among representatives from academia, industry and research institutes. The scope of the conducted research efforts includes techniques and tools for performance measurement, load testing, profiling, workload characterization, dependability and efficiency evaluation of computing systems. While the focus is on performance, other extra-functional system properties such as scalability, availability, cost and energy efficiency are considered as well.
A major component of the RG is the development of standard scenarios and workloads—called research benchmarks—for emerging technologies and applications. Benchmarks from the research group are intended primarily for in-depth analysis and evaluation of early prototypes and research results. This differentiates them from conventional benchmarks used for direct comparison and marketing of existing products.
Other planned activities of the RG include publishing a newsletter and journal, establishing a portal for benchmarking-related resources, recognizing outstanding contributions to benchmarking research, and organizing conferences and workshops.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are still curious, perhaps we have the answers in the SPEC FAQ.
Kaivalya Dixit, long-time SPEC president, passed away on 22 November, 2004. Kaivalya touched many across the computer performance community and will be missed by all. SPEC has established a page where visitors may read remembrances of Kaivalya or share their own.
Tom Skornia, legal counsel to SPEC for much of its history, succumbed to cancer Wednesday, April 27th, 2005. Tom was not necessarily a public person, but behind the scenes his bright mind and hard work on behalf of many companies and consortia in the industry was a key factor in our successes.
Larry Gray, longtime SPEC treasurer, passed away on January 30, 2011. Larry was involved from SPEC from its inception, and in addition to serving as treasurer he participated in the development of many of SPEC's benchmarks.