Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) definition

The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC), originally known as the System Performance Evaluation Cooperative, is a consortium of leading computer hardware and software manufacturers that was founded in 1988 with the goal of defining, establishing, maintaining and endorsing benchmarks applicable to computer systems. Today, SPEC has more than 60 member companies including major industry players such as Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Unisys. SPEC is headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia.

SPEC consists of three major branches or subgroups:

  • The Open Systems Group (OSG), the original SPEC committee, develops test standards and procedures for desktop computers, workstations and servers.
  • The High-Performance Group (HPG) develops test standards and procedures for supercomputers and systems that use parallel processing, symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and other advanced technologies.
  • The Graphics Performance Characterization Group (GPC) develops test standards and procedures for widely used graphics and imaging applications.

In addition to developing and updating new and existing benchmarks, SPEC publishes the results of tests conducted using those benchmarks. These results can be found on the official SPEC Web site. The standards and procedures are conceived with utility and fairness in mind, allowing purchasers of computer equipment and programs to make informed choices. All the processes are designed to simulate real-world scenarios to the greatest extent practicable. The use of any SPEC benchmark requires that a license be purchased. The activities of the consortium are financed by its member corporations.

This was first published in February 2007

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