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Computer Performance Evaluation: Definition, Challenges & Parameters Video

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  • 4:37 How Are Benchmarks Used?
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lyna Griffin

Lyna has tutored undergraduate Information Management Systems and Database Development. She has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Information Technology.

In this lesson, we will look at computer performance evaluation and its challenges as well as examining the various parameters that are used in evaluating system performance.

Computer Performance and Evaluation

Computer performance is the efficiency of a given computer system, or how well the computer performs, when taking all aspects into account. A computer performance evaluation is defined as the process by which a computer system's resources and outputs are assessed to determine whether the system is performing at an optimal level. It is similar to a voltmeter that a handyman may use to check the voltage across a circuit. The meter verifies that the correct voltage is passing through the circuit. Similarly, an assessment can be done on a PC using established benchmarks to see if it is performing correctly.

Why Computer Performance Evaluation Is Complex

In evaluating a computer's performance, a number of parameters are used to determine the result. Examples are latency, speed, throughput, bandwidth, and more, which will be discussed next in the lesson. Standards, or points of reference, are used against the parameters, and an assessment is given. This process is known as benchmarking.

It is not an easy task to create benchmarks for assessing computer performance. The primary challenge is that technological characteristics are constantly changing. This means that benchmarking has to be constantly updated, too. This makes computer evaluation a complex process.

Computer Performance Parameters

Let's take a look at the most common computer performance parameters.

Response Time

A functioning computer environment comprises millions of data transmission cycles consisting of user requests and system responses. The response time is defined as the total time lapse between the completion of an inquiry or demand made on a system resource and the receipt of a response. In real life, it can be compared to the time between placing an order to receiving a delivery.

Latency

Latency is the term used to describe the state of existence of something in transition. Every transmitted piece of information on a computer system travels over some sort of medium. Computer latency is defined as the time it takes to communicate a message, or the time the message spends traveling the geographical distance ('on the wire') before it gets to its desired destination. This can be compared to the time one spends on an aircraft, traveling from one geographical location to another.

Speed

The term speed is usually in reference to the clock speed of the processor. The clock speed is defined as the clock cycles per second, which determines the rate at which instruction processing takes place. It is usually measured in megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz). Computer speed is one of the leading parameters in assessing a computer's performance. It can be compared to the horsepower of an engine. The higher the horsepower, the faster the car can move.

Throughput

Computer function consists of millions of data transmissions between devices and components. The computer's throughput is defined as the number of units of information that can be successfully processed at any given time. The throughput is commonly measured using bits per second (bps)—more specifically, megabits per second (Mbps) and gigabits per second (Gbps). For example, if the post office can receive and process a maximum of 1000 items per day, then that's its throughput.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a measure of the maximum rate at which data can be transferred between components of the computer system, or the amount of data that is sent at any particular time across a specific connection. This term could be applied to network connections or computer performance. Consider our post office outlet again. It can process 1000 items a day, but not all of the items at the same time. There are only a few counters, and each counter can only help one customer at a time. This is similar to bandwidth.

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