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Benefits of SPEC Membership

By Larry Gray
Hewlett-Packard
Cupertino, Calif.

Published December, 1994; see disclaimer.


The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) was founded in 1988 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation of fair and realistic tools for evaluating the performance of modern computer systems. SPEC benchmarks have become globally accepted as valid measures of computer system performance. This article offers several compelling reasons for joining SPEC, providing an overview of the organization and the benefits now accruing to SPEC member companies.

SPEC has recently experienced a surge in growth and extended its systems scope. By the end of 1995 there will be SPEC benchmarks to cover the range of systems from desktop workstations to room-size supercomputers. A new steering committee has been formed from the members of the former PERFECT club (PERFormance Evaluation for Cost Effective Transformations).

The High Performance Steering Committee (HPSC) is a peer function of the Open Systems Steering Committee (OSSC). The HPSC intends to release sets of application-based benchmarks from a range of high-performance computing disciplines such as computational chemistry, seismic data processing, computational fluid dynamics and others. These benchmarks are intended to be scalable from workstations to supercomputers and will be comparable across systems architectures from uniprocessors to massively parallel systems.

The OSSC retains the activities and goals of the original SPEC membership. They continue to produce the SPEC Newsletter and target benchmarks to UN*X based workstations and servers. Their plan is to release several new benchmark suites early in 1995.

Companies who manufacture or sell computer hardware or software are invited to apply for membership in SPEC and associate themselves with either or both committees. Affiliation brings valuable benefits for member companies, the individuals that participate and contributes value to the whole computer industry.

SPEC activities and services are funded by member initiation fees, annual dues, and the sale of SPEC products: benchmarks and the SPEC Newsletter. There are currently two categories of affiliation, regular member and associate. SPEC Associates are limited to nonprofit organizations or educational institutions. Associates may participate in all SPEC activities but have no vote in SPEC- wide affairs. Associates may vote in committee specific business, dependent upon the policies of the respective committees.

Regular members enjoy the full range of benefits. A company (its representative) may be elected to a Steering Committee or the Board of Directors and therefore become part of SPEC management, creating plans, setting policy and directly influencing the future direction of the organization and its products.

SPEC Membership and Benefits Summary
OSSC Regular HPSC Regular OSSC Associate HPSC Associate
Membership requirements
Initiation Fee $1,000 $1,000 $500 $500
Annual dues by committee affiliation $5,000 $5,000 $1,000 $1,000
Non-profit/education requirement no no yes yes
Voting Rights & Committees
Vote for Steering Committee's seats yes* n/a no n/a
Vote for Board of Directors' seats yes yes no no
Vote on Steering Committee Policy yes* yes# no yes#
Election to Steering Committee's seats yes* n/a no n/a
Election to Board of Directors yes yes yes yes
Host meetings yes yes yes yes
Steering Committee participation yes yes yes yes
Hold sub-committee chair yes* yes* no yes
Benchmarks
Submit and sponsor yes yes yes yes
Project management yes yes yes yes
Benchathon participation yes yes yes yes
Vote in suite yes yes# no yes
In-progress products yes yes yes yes
Beta release products yes yes yes yes
Final release products yes yes yes yes
Create/access workload studies yes yes yes yes
SPEC Newsletter
Subscription yes yes yes yes
Newsletter copies per quarter 20 20 5 5
Results pages - no-cost (per quarter) 6 tbd 0 0
Additional results page cost (> 6) $300 $300 $300 $300
Article submission yes yes yes yes
Results consolidation on diskette yes yes yes yes
Unlimited right to copy yes yes yes yes
Access to electronic copies yes yes yes yes
Other
Electronic-mail, ftp access, & SPEC WWW access yes yes yes yes
Meeting minutes yes yes yes yes
SPEC address list yes yes yes yes
NCGA BBS access yes yes yes yes
*. Within host committee only
#. HPSC voting policies include associates with conditions

The table on the previous page provides a summary of tangible benefits for both regular and associate members. See page 16 for the list of current member companies. Both categories of affiliation bring many intangible benefits for both the company and the individuals who are the SPEC representatives. Participation in SPEC affairs, especially the benchmark development and characterization efforts, provides the opportunity to exert a strong influence over the entire benchmark creation process.

Your company can have a direct influence on which benchmarks are developed and what operations the codes perform. Through work with SPEC, you will have early access to and the opportunity to submit candidate benchmarks and a vote on which will be offered in the SPEC suites. Any released SPEC benchmarks will have long been ported to your platform(s).

Open systems and standards are bywords in the computer field today. SPEC is now an integral part of the industry and widely considered as the de facto standard for processor performance benchmarks. New benchmarks now in development may be of interest to your company.

Membership affords your company increased visibility in support of industry standards. Through the SPEC Newsletter and trade press coverage of SPEC, your company secures low cost press and public relations value. Your SPEC representatives will have greatly increased opportunities to be called on for trade press interviews, author articles and speak at trade shows and press events.

Your SPEC representatives will associate with systems and performance experts from other companies. This is a professional growth opportunity that can significantly increase that person's value to your company. Through SPEC, people expand their individual knowledge base, gain new skills and broaden their perspectives. Your company benefits from increased competitive awareness.

In addition to benchmarks, SPEC also develops new methods and tools for system performance evaluation. Access or even knowledge of this technology can increase the understanding of your systems and those of competitors. This information offers superior insight into system behavior which leads to improved systems design.

In conclusion, all of the above translates to a competitive advantage. If the marketplace measures your systems with SPEC performance metrics, now or in the future, SPEC members would like you to remember this phrase: "Design your next generation systems with next generation benchmarks."

To request a membership information packet, please contact Dianne Rice, SPEC administrator at NCGA, at 703- 698-9604 ext. 325.

Larry Gray works for Hewlett-Packard in Cupertino, Calif. on system performance evaluation. He serves SPEC as a member of the Board of Directors and as chair of SPEC's Planning Committee.

Copyright (c) 1994 Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation