Advanced Computer Architecture

Assignment 1 -Comparing PC Performance Using Classic Benchmarks
In Section 1.6.4 of our textbook, we are introduced to a number of benchmarking programs that have
been used over the years to compare the performance of computer systems. Among these are the classic
Whetstones, Dhrystones, Livermore Loops, and LINPACK benchmarks as well as newer test suites such
as SPEC CPU2006.
SPEC charges a fee for use of their benchmark code, but source code for the older benchmarks
mentioned above is widely available, both in the original languages (FORTRAN in most cases) as well as
translations into C, C++ and other more modern languages. One site with a good variety of public- domain
benchmarks, including source code and pre-compiled versions for Intel/AMD PC-compatible platforms, is
Roy Longbottom’s PC Benchmark Collection. In order to get some “hands-on” perspective about
benchmarking, we will run some of the programs available on his site and examine the results we get.
To get started, go to the following link and download BenchNT which is a zipped file containing source
code and pre-compiled (PC executable) versions of four classic benchmark programs mentioned in our
text. Unzip the files to a directory on a machine you wish to test.
There are several ways you can use the programs you just downloaded, but probably the easiest thing to
do is to open up a command prompt, change to the BENCHNT directory in which the executable
programs reside, and execute the RUNALL.BAT file. This will run the complete set of benchmarks on
your machine, which will probably take several minutes. At the end, you will be prompted to enter
certain information about the system, including the system manufacturer and model, the CPU type and
clock frequency, the amount of on-chip cache memory, the amount and type of system RAM, the size
and type of hard disk(s), the make and model of the graphics card and how much RAM it has, the OS in
use, and so on. All of this information will be saved into the BENCHSYS.TXT file along with the
benchmark results so that you have documentation of the test conditions. (You will probably want to
gather all the relevant information about the system under test before actually executing RUNALL.)
When the collection of benchmarks finishes running, be sure to save the BENCHSYS.TXT file
containing all the collected data.
Assignment (Due in class, Tuesday, February 16): Run the complete BenchNT suite on three different
PC-compatible computer systems. To the extent possible, pick systems that have distinctly different
characteristics. For example, you might choose a notebook computer, a bare-bones desktop, and a
high-powered, multicore gaming machine (if you have access to one). To be “fair” to each system, exit all
other applications such that the maximum amount of RAM and CPU time is available to run the
benchmarks. Save the BENCHSYS.TXT file produced in each case.
Prepare a report (in Word or PDF format) in which you analyze the results of the benchmarking tests run
on the three systems. In your report, you should describe the nature of each benchmark and explain what
aspect(s) of system performance it is designed to measure. Describe each system’s hardware and software
configuration and display comparative results in tabular and/or graphical format for ease of
comprehension. (You can use Excel or other tools to create tables and graphs from the results of interest.)
Give your best explanation of performance differences between the systems, as well as differences
between various benchmark results for each system individually. (For example, how great are the
differences between “optimized” and “non-optimized” versions of the same benchmark running on the
same system -and, if the differences are considerable, what were the nature of the optimizations that
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made such a difference?) Take note of, and attempt to explain, any particularly interesting phenomena or
differences in the results -for example, if system A outperforms system B on Whetstones but the reverse
is true when running Dhrystones, what attributes of their system hardware, OS, etc. might explain this?
Extra credit option: In addition to the three PC-compatible systems, recompile the source code for one or
more of the benchmark programs to run on a non-Intel architecture platform, for example a SPARC-or
MIPS-based machine. Run the benchmark(s) on this other machine and include the results (and analysis
thereof) in your report. The amount of extra credit given will depend on how many of the benchmarks
you ported to the non-Intel machine as well as (of course) the quality of your analysis of the results.
For full credit, make sure you submit it by the due date/time given above.

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