SPEC awards, Elves working in the back

March 30, 2008

Finishing my list of SPECtacular awards given at SPEC’s 2008 annual meeting in San Francisco, I want to thank some of the many people who have made invaluable contributions to the organization behind the scenes. As before I won’t cite names without permission, but will add them later if given the okay.

All those thousands of SPEC results make their way through committee peer review and publication, thanks to the efforts of a web site editor volunteer from Intel, and two SPEC IT staff, Jason Glick and Cathy Sandifer. Behind the public web site is a members only web site and other servers, for collaboration on benchmark development and results review. Their job is merely keeping all this infrastructure up and running through disasters, natural and man-made (telco made, that is), while the number of benchmarks, member institutions, and participants grows rapidly, and the services to members continue to expand.

Distributing the network load worldwide, and providing redundancy in case of outages, are mirror sites at the University of Miami, U.S., and the University of Pavia, Italy. The IT coordinators at those universities were given awards for their work.

Though the benchmarks keep getting more complex, it keeps getting easier to run them, to collect, review, and publish the data without errors, and then to search and select the desired information to view. Along with our SPEC IT staff, Cloyce Spradling of Sun has done spectacular work building and maintaining these tools, and adapting them for new benchmarks.

Nobody enjoys flying these days, but we have to collaborate to get our work done. And coming from 82 different companies and institutions each with its own internal IT standards, no single vendor solution is going to work for us. Our virtual meeting facilities project was driven by Alan Adamson of IBM, an engineer from Dell, and an engineer from BEA. It has allowed us to be more productive than ever while cutting the number of physical meetings. Result: a little less CO2 dumped in the atmosphere, a little less green spent on travel by member companies, and some fewer hours of confinement in airplanes endured by SPEC participants.

Organizing the work of 82 member institutions and SPEC staff is like the proverbial cat herding. Paula Smith of VMware and Alan Adamson of IBM have managed to do it. Paula is a Vice-president of SPEC in charge of headquarters operations, and Alan is chair of the Open Systems Group steering committee. John Henning of Sun, secretary of the Open Systems Group steering committee led a comprehensive overhaul of organization policy – clearer, fewer loopholes, better guidance. And Klaus Lange of HP helped make sure that the result was accessible to new members so you don’t have to be in an "old boys network" to work in SPEC.

A staff member from SPEC HQ, organizes our meetings among other jobs. This is everything from finding meeting hotels and negotiating rates to acquiring an extra projector or speaker phone, and essentially solving any problem that comes up. She makes sure our meetings are productive and low cost.

Bob Cramblitt certainly deserves some good publicity for all the work he has done for SPEC over the years. Of course trying to give him publicity by posting on my personal blog is ironic because his business is public relations. I may get only a few dozen readers, but whenever we really need to reach our target audience to get the word out about a new benchmark, Bob’s the guy to get it done. He also has a very good sense for when a reporter does not want to talk to a PR flack, and needs to get the information directly from the engineers.


SPEC releases SPECsfs2008 file server benchmark

March 26, 2008

How fast is your file server? SPEC has released a new network file server benchmark, SPECsfs2008. A follow on to the SFS97_R1 benchmark for NFS file servers, the new benchmark adds support for the CIFS protocol. Of course NFS transaction rates cannot be compared with CIFS transaction rates because the workloads are completely different. Both workloads draw from real world measurements of thousands of customer sites. More client types are supported and the benchmark is easier to use than ever.

SPEC award recipients, Power Performance

March 26, 2008

More SPECtacular awards given at SPEC’s 2008 annual meeting in San Francisco, to members of the power committee who produced the SPECpower_ssj2008 benchmark. This wasn’t an easy benchmark to do, taking us into areas of engineering not so familiar to performance analysts. Along the way we picked up some new contributors, and some of us picked up some new knowledge and skills. Energy efficiency is increasingly important, and eventually I expect to see power measurements as part of every performance benchmark. But for now, SPECpower_ssj2008 is a great start that establishes a fair and practical methodology for consistent measurement.

As before I won’t cite names without permission, but will add them later if given the okay. SPEC thanks:

  • Paul Muehr from AMD
  • Greg Darnell, and another engineer from Dell
  • Karin Wulf, and another engineer from Fujitsu-Siemens
  • Klaus Lange, and another engineer from HP
  • Jeremy Arnold, Alan Adamson, and another engineer from IBM
  • Anil Kumar, and two other engineers from Intel
  • an engineer from Sun
  • Michael Armbrust from UC Berkeley RAD Lab