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Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation

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SPEC: For 30 years, a beacon of truth

"There are lies, damned lies, and benchmarks."

The above line, derived from a Mark Twain quote about statistics, used to be a common perception among computer technologists. But, you don't hear it much, if at all, anymore. That's a testament primarily to one organization: The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC®).

With 125 members in 22 countries and nearly two dozen benchmarks spanning highly diverse aspects of computing performance and energy efficiency, SPEC has become known as a beacon of truth for computing researchers, vendors, users and analysts worldwide. These professionals rely on SPEC to ensure that the marketplace has a fair and useful set of metrics to differentiate computing systems.

John Mashey discusses foxes, hen houses and the founding of SPEC (video).

In the parlance of the early SPEC pioneers, "an ounce of honest data is worth more than a pound of marketing hype."

To mark its 30th anniversary, SPEC has assembled a 30-year historical timeline and overviews of its four major groups, its energy initiatives, and its headquarters operations, with quotes from observers and participants over those three decades. Long live better benchmarks!

"We in the workstation industry live or die by SPEC. The organization is for and by the industry and as a result, they are very aware of the necessity of keeping up to date. For the past 30 years the group's benchmarks have evolved to keep up with the latest developments in processor and software technologies, and if possible remain compatible or at least consistent with past versions."

-- Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research