The Case for Application-Specific Benchmarking

Margo Seltzer, David Krinsky, Keith Smith, Xiaolan Zhang


Most performance analysis today uses either microbenchmarks or standard macrobenchmarks (e.g., SPEC, LADDIS, the Andrew benchmark). However, the results of such benchmarks provide little information to indicate how well a particular system will handle a particular application. Such results are, at best, useless and, at worst, misleading. In this paper, we argue for an application-directed approach to benchmarking, using performance metrics that reflect the expected behavior of a particular application across a range of hardware or software platforms. We present three different approaches to application-specific measurement, one using vectors that characterize both the underlying system and an application, one using trace-driven techniques, and a hybrid approach. We argue that such techniques should become the new standard.

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