Understanding Performance Bottlenecks
One word youll want to know is bottleneck. The phrase bottleneck means the place where the speed of getting something done is slowed up. The expression comes from the neck of a glass bottle which limits how fast liquid can be poured out of the bottle.
For example, maybe you have a really fast CPU and something just isnt working as fast as you feel it should. Whats slowing up the works? Its the bottleneck.
Finding the bottleneck isnt always easy. Maybe, its the bus speed on the mainboard. (Bus speed is how fast data is transferred around on the mainboard, from the mainboard to RAM, etc. Different buses have different bus speeds. For example, there is a certain rate at which data can be transferred to and from a PCI card.) Maybe, you dont have enough RAM. Maybe, its the speed and buffer of the hard drive.
For example, in backing up data to a CD, you might see that a slower CD-RW takes quite a bit of time. The CD-RW write speed might be the bottleneck. Getting a much faster mainboard wont help. Youd just need a faster CD-RW drive.
For browsing on the Internet, the bottleneck is usually the speed of your Internet connection. Going from a dial-up phone connection to a DSL or cable modem connection will speed up your Internet surfing far more than a faster CPU. In fact, the CPU speed will have very little effect.
So, before you jump to upgrade a mainboard, ask if the thing thats really slowing down your work (or fun!) might be some other bottleneck.
If you want to compare the speed of your system to other systems, consider the free tool SiSoft Sandra, available from download.com.
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Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005
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