Wasted Computing Power



Most of the computing power you have in your office is wasted. Your computers just do not have enough to do to keep them busy even a tiny fraction of the time.

Most computer users do at least some word processing, but this example could apply to accounting, database, spreadsheet, and many other types of applications as well. Let’s assume that our user has a fairly typical computer system – a 2.5 GHz Intel i7 Dual Core processor with 8 GB of RAM and a hard drive – and that he or she is a pretty good typist – say 75 words per minute.

Note: This “typical computer” is becoming less and less typical every day as faster processors with more CPUs on board become available. However I use this system for my example, because faster computers waste even more CPU cycles and time. A nice, average computer provides a good foundation for the rest of this proposition.

Let’s look more closely at a couple of things before we go further with this scenario. You have seen the specification before, for a 2.5 GHz i7 dual core processor in this system. But what exactly does that mean? This specification is a measure of the processing power of the brain of the computer. i7 defines the type of Intel processor chip installed in the computer, and 2.5 GHz represents the number of clock cycles per second and defines how fast that chip runs. Dual core means that there are, in fact, two CPUs (Central Processing Units) in the processor chip. Some processor chips have as many as six or eight CPUs.

Each core of the computer CPU chip is capable of processing one computer instruction every 4 to 7 clock cycles per CPU core. Therefore, a 2.5 GHz dual core CPU – at 2,500,000,000 clock cycles per second – should be capable of executing approximately 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) instructions every second.

Our typist can type about 75 words per minute and it takes about 1500 processor instructions to process each keystroke. If we assume an average of 6 characters per word, we get 6 characters x 75 words per minute / 60 seconds per minute = 7.5 characters per second. And 7.5 characters per second x 1500 instructions per character = 11,250 instructions per second are used to type this document. That leaves 999,988,750 instructions available for use each second which have been wasted. Over 99.998875% of the available processing power in this computer has been wasted because the computer simply sits there waiting for the user to press the next key.




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