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Fading Into The Sunset

SPEC Obsoletes SPEC CPU92

Jeff Reilly
Intel Corporation
Santa Clara, Calif.

Published July, 1996; see disclaimer.

Just as computer hardware can become obsolete with time, so can software. And this includes computer benchmarks. As of July 1996, SPEC considers the SPEC CPU92 benchmarks to be obsolete and encourages people to transition to the SPEC CPU95 benchmarks (if they have not done so already).

What does this mean? This means that as of July 1996:

  • SPEC will cease selling and supporting the SPEC CPU92 suites.
  • SPEC will stop accepting and publishing SPEC CPU92 benchmark results.

Why does SPEC consider SPEC CPU92 obsolete? Both hardware and software technology are continually improving and what may have been a good test of technology three or more years ago may not be a good test today. SPEC developed SPEC CPU95 to replace SPEC CPU92. Improvements found in SPEC CPU95 include:

  • Additional application areas: CPU95 includes benchmarks from fields not included in SPEC CPU92, including imaging and database.
  • Greater application size: Many comments received by SPEC indicated that applications had grown in complexity and size and that SPEC CPU92 was becoming less representative.
  • Portability: SPEC has consciously chosen programs and tools that are as independent of the operating system as possible.
  • Providing a moving target: By updating the benchmarks periodically, it is hoped that general improvements will be encouraged and that test/benchmark specific optimization become less effective.
  • Longer runtime: Some of the SPEC CPU92 benchmarks were running in less than five seconds on high-end machines. Given the CPU92 measurement tools, small changes or fluctuations in the measurements were having significant impacts on the percentage improvements being seen.

In the meantime, SPEC is continuing to promote, support and publish SPEC CPU95 benchmarks results (there are currently more than 550 SPEC CPU95 results to be found on

If there are any questions or concerns, SPEC can be contacted at:

10754 Ambassador Drive, Suite 201
Manassas, VA 20109
Phone: 703-331-0180 Fax: 703-331-0181