SPEC/HPG Benchmarks for Multiprocessor Systems

Dual processor systems are notoriously tough to benchmark. If you run a benchmark that was written for single-processor systems, you see speed increases based on the fact that each processor is working on different tasks (for example, one running the OS and one running an application) but you really don't get any idea of how well the systems can work on different parts of the same task. In fact, very few apps are written that take advantage of Dualies' ability to split tasks into parts and work on them at the same time. Omid wrote an article that gives an overview of how parallel processing works a few months ago. Well, to cut to the chase, SPEC's High-Performance Group (SPEC/HPG) just released a benchmark suite that measures performance using applications based on the OpenMP standard for shared-memory parallel processing. SPEC OMPM2001 is the first set of benchmarks to be released for the SPEC OMP2001 software product. A second suite, SPEC OMPL2001, should rear its head at the end of this year. SPEC OMPM2001 is targeted at system vendors, software vendors, and customers of high-performance computing systems. It uses a set of shared-memory, parallel-processing applications to measure the performance of the computing system's processors, memory architecture, operating system and compiler. Eleven different application benchmarks, covering everything from computational chemistry to finite-element crash simulation to shallow water modeling, are included in the benchmark. Benchmarks running under SPEC OMPM2001 use up to 1.6GB of memory and take approximately one-and-a-half hours each to run on a 350-MHz, four-processor reference machine. SPEC OMPL2001 will contain larger working sets and longer run times when it is released. SPEC OMPM2001 is available now from SPEC for $1,800, with a discount price of $450 for universities and other non-profit organizations. More information on SPEC OMPM2001 can be found on the SPEC website . Sounds expensive at first glance, but if you think about the increased interest in dual processor systems, you have to figure that there must be a pretty big market right now for a benchmark that can comparatively test the systems and software.

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