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Regarding Availability Dates
Listed in SPEC CPU2000 Results

Last updated: 2-Jan-2001

SPEC CPU2000 results include two dates:

   - Hardware Avail: the date by which all hardware used in the result is available
   - Software Avail: the date by which all software used in the result is available

It has come to SPEC's attention that some CPU2000 results published on its web site may be confusing regarding the published dates of general availability. Specifically, SPEC notes that there may be some confusion regarding the availability of the following results:

SPEC regrets any confusion that may arise regarding dates, and in the interest of full disclosure, would like to increase readers' awareness of some of the issues regarding availability.

The CPU2000 run rules (see the introductory section titled "Purpose", and section 4.1) are intended to ensure that CPU2000 results are published for systems that are already available when the result is published, or for systems that will be available within three months of publication. The goal is that real users should be able to assemble a system described on SPEC's web site, order the benchmark from SPEC, and reproduce the claimed performance result (within a small margin for run-to-run variation).

Sometimes, it may not be possible to obtain the system, for various reasons:

  1. A system may be discontinued because it has reached the end of its useful life. Old systems are constantly being replaced by newer ones. Vendors discontinue production of systems as they choose, and SPEC does not remove those old results. SPEC believes that historical results are of value to customers who wish to compare older systems to newer systems.

  2. Less frequently, a product may be discontinued prematurely, for example if the vendor decides to withdraw from a market, or discovers a problem that requires a recall.

  3. A product may be temporarily withdrawn, and then re-introduced, for example in response to a temporary shortage of a critical component.

  4. A product may be available, but demand may be greater than supply, leading to elongated delivery times.

Unfortunately, the run rules and the SPEC reporting mechanisms do not currently provide clear and easy ways to distinguish among these cases. Therefore, in case of any question regarding product availability, the reader should always contact the vendor directly for clarification.

Recognizing the possible confusion from this situation, SPEC is currently considering revisions to the CPU2000 run and reporting rules to set specific standards for continued availability of products, to ensure that systems will be available and results can be reproduced.

The effort to set availability standards is not as simple as it may seem. The same rules must apply uniformly to all licensees, many of whom sell in different market segments, and have very different business models, quality assurance methodologies, production ramps, and distribution channels. Moreover, as an industry consortium operating within the rules of U.S. and other countries' anti-trust law, there are strict limits on SPEC members' ability to share information with one another.

Sometimes, it is difficult to determine when a product is available, because different sources conflict with each other. This can occur for a variety of reasons.

  • Plans may change after some publications occur.

  • Some sources may quote the date of initial product availability, while others quote the date when the entire production channel has reached full volume.

  • A product may be introduced to different market segments or different geographies at different times.

  • In cases where demand exceeds supply, a vendor may meet the technical requirements for SPEC CPU2000 run rule 4.1 at one date, but nevertheless prefer to quote a later date in order to avoid fueling demand that cannot be met.

Futhermore, see the note regarding configuration changes in CPU2000 results published on the SPEC website.

SPEC invites your comments and suggestions on this topic; email comments@spec.org