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Performance parameters are a combination of architecture (the ISP), hardware implementation, and resources (the PMS structure) being acted on by programs (the use). Simplistic hardware measures, such as instruction times, can be used to characterize machine performance for many cases. However, the ultimate performance parameters have to be based on actual use parameters, otherwise there is no way to correlate the primitive hardware measures to real performance. Benchmarks of synthetic or real workload provide the only real test by which performance can be compared. These might include standardized benchmarks such as Whetstones for the algorithmic scientific languages and COBOL benchmarks for commercial applications.

When one measures performance, there is a tacit assumption that sufficient software exists to exploit a hardware structure, and that the transformation from the basic hardware machine (the macromachine) to the user machine (as provided by a language such as COBOL or FORTRAN) is relatively constant across various architectures. As each level is crossed, a transformation requiring computational work takes place. The form of the work with compiled languages is direct execution via the processor and run-time support program. With interpreted languages, the processor executes an interpretation program which indirectly interprets the data (i.e., final program).

At the lowest level, the internal micromachine provides the architectural facade, the ISP, operating at roughly 10 times the speed of the macromachine. Thus, a macromachine executing 1 million instructions per second may have an effective microcycle time of 100 nanoseconds for executing 10 million microinstructions per second. At the next level, a macromachine (ISP) executing 1 million instructions per second is capable of perhaps 0.1 to 0.25 million higher level FORTRAN language statements (instructions) per second depending on the mix of built-in functions and external functions called.


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