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Arnold Allen

Whilst the above definition relates to a scientific, technical approach, the following definition given by Arnold Allen would be useful for a non-technical audience:
Arnold Oral Allen was an American instructor, public speaker, and writer who worked at IBM and Hewlett-Packard, and specialized in the analysis and mathematical modelling of computer performance.

Megahertz myth

easily manipulable benchmarkever-increasing clock speedsMHz myth
However, sometimes pushing one type of performance to an extreme leads to a CPU with worse overall performance, because other important aspects were sacrificed to get one impressive-looking number, for example, the chip's clock rate (see the megahertz myth).
A benchmark is a more thorough way of measuring and comparing computer performance.

Instruction path length

CPU path length
Computer performance metrics (things to measure) include availability, response time, channel capacity, latency, completion time, service time, bandwidth, throughput, relative efficiency, scalability, performance per watt, compression ratio, instruction path length and speed up.
In computer performance, the instruction path length is the number of machine code instructions required to execute a section of a computer program.

Parallel computing

parallelparallel processingparallelism
System designers building parallel computers, such as Google's hardware, pick CPUs based on their speed per watt of power, because the cost of powering the CPU outweighs the cost of the CPU itself.
Frequency scaling was the dominant reason for improvements in computer performance from the mid-1980s until 2004.

Benchmark (computing)

benchmarkbenchmarksbenchmarking
Because there are so many programs to test a CPU on all aspects of performance, benchmarks were developed.

Instruction set architecture

instruction setinstructionsinstruction
A CPU designer is often required to implement a particular instruction set, and so cannot change N.
This enables multiple implementations of an ISA that differ in performance, physical size, and monetary cost (among other things), but that are capable of running the same machine code, so that a lower-performance, lower-cost machine can be replaced with a higher-cost, higher-performance machine without having to replace software.

Branch predictor

branch predictionbranch mispredictionbranch prediction unit
Sometimes a designer focuses on improving performance by making significant improvements in CPI (with techniques such as out-of-order execution, superscalar CPUs, larger caches, caches with improved hit rates, improved branch prediction, speculative execution, etc.), while (hopefully) not sacrificing too much clock frequency—leading to a brainiac CPU design.
Branch predictors play a critical role in achieving high effective performance in many modern pipelined microprocessor architectures such as x86.

Algorithmic efficiency

efficiencyefficientefficiently
Computer manufacturers frequently bring out new models, often with higher performance.

Application-specific integrated circuit

ASICASICsapplication specific integrated circuit
Because the units of throughput are the reciprocal of the unit for propagation delay, which is 'seconds per message' or 'seconds per output', throughput can be used to relate a computational device performing a dedicated function such as an ASIC or embedded processor to a communications channel, simplifying system analysis.
Gate-array ASICs are always a compromise between rapid design and performance as mapping a given design onto what a manufacturer held as a stock wafer never gives 100% circuit utilization.

Giga-updates per second

RAM update rateRandomAccess
Giga-updates per second (GUPS) is a measure of computer performance.

Hardware acceleration

hardware-acceleratedhardware acceleratoraccelerated
Hardware acceleration is advantageous for performance, and practical when the functions are fixed so updates are not as needed as in software solutions.

Program optimization

optimizationoptimizedoptimizations
The most common use of profiling information is to aid program optimization.
Optimization can reduce readability and add code that is used only to improve the performance.

Computing

computer technologycomputing technologyapplied computing
In computing, computer performance is the amount of useful work accomplished by a computer system.

Computer program

programprogramscomputer programs
Outside of specific contexts, computer performance is estimated in terms of accuracy, efficiency and speed of executing computer program instructions.

Response time (technology)

response timepixel response timetime delay
Computer performance metrics (things to measure) include availability, response time, channel capacity, latency, completion time, service time, bandwidth, throughput, relative efficiency, scalability, performance per watt, compression ratio, instruction path length and speed up.

Throughput

maximum throughputasymptotic bandwidthBandwidth
Computer performance metrics (things to measure) include availability, response time, channel capacity, latency, completion time, service time, bandwidth, throughput, relative efficiency, scalability, performance per watt, compression ratio, instruction path length and speed up.

Data compression

compressionvideo compressioncompressed
Computer performance metrics (things to measure) include availability, response time, channel capacity, latency, completion time, service time, bandwidth, throughput, relative efficiency, scalability, performance per watt, compression ratio, instruction path length and speed up.

Bandwidth (computing)

bandwidthnetwork bandwidthInternet bandwidth
Computer performance metrics (things to measure) include availability, response time, channel capacity, latency, completion time, service time, bandwidth, throughput, relative efficiency, scalability, performance per watt, compression ratio, instruction path length and speed up.

Data transmission

data transferdigital communicationsdigital communication

Software

Computer softwareSoftware & Programmingsoftware technology
Computer software performance, particularly software application response time, is an aspect of software quality that is important in human–computer interactions.

Application software

applicationapplicationssoftware application
Computer software performance, particularly software application response time, is an aspect of software quality that is important in human–computer interactions.

Software quality

software reliabilitycode qualityquality
Computer software performance, particularly software application response time, is an aspect of software quality that is important in human–computer interactions.

Human–computer interaction

human-computer interactionhuman computer interactionHCI
Computer software performance, particularly software application response time, is an aspect of software quality that is important in human–computer interactions.