If you ask any computer expert about the advantage of computer
use, two of their answers will be: The numeric computation capability, and the speed at which any task is done.
There many more advantages for using computers, but I will stress on the numeric computation aspect of those advantages.
I have done a test involving numeric computing to test the power of my Central Processing Unit of my computer. What I also did the test using Windows Xp and Redhat Linux, which are both installed on the same computer.
One of the reasons why I did the test, that I am about to explain, was my urge to sense the power of computer by looking at the screen.
Another reason was, I was getting fed up with Hearing about computer specs, without even knowing what they can do, or mean.
Here is an example:
Pentium II, 350 MHZ, Ram=256MB
Pentium III, 500 MHZ , Ram=512MB
and so on…
What is the power of the above specs?. How to approximate how many times the above P III is more powerful than the P II?.
Here is what I did:
I used my Pentium II, Ram=288MBs computer that has Windows XP and Linux installed on the same Hard disk in the same computer.
I tried to use the maximum numeric computational power of the computer by trying to get the result of multiplying the number ‘2″ by itself 99 times and every time I got a result, I added another “9” until the computer can’t handle the numbers anymore.
Using Windows Xp, I ran the calculator by typing “calc.exe” in the Run box. Then, I used the scientific calculator to handle the exponential calculation.
The most I was able to compute was 2 power 99,999. When I tried 2 power 999,999, Windows XP resulted in an error saying: “Invalid input for function”
Then, I rebooted my computer, and picked Redhat Linux to run on the same computer instead of Windows Xp. Once Linux prompted me to login, I used the mathematical utility Linux has. It is called by typing “bc” at the command line.
Once I ran “bc”, I typed 2^99,999, the same maximum number I used in Windows Xp calculator . In about 2 seconds, i got the result.
Then, I tried a bigger number, 2^999,999 which Windows Xp scientific calculator could not handle. In about 5 seconds, I got the result on the screen. then, I added one more digit to compute 2^9,999,999 which is 2 multiplied by itself 10 Millions times minus one.
I waited about 35 minutes, then Linux BC application produced the result on the screen by showing few screens full of numbers from left to right, and
top to bottom.
Now you probably thinking, how does this computing relate to the performance of the CPU, or the whole computer as a whole.
Here is the answer:
What I discussed so far is using certain numbers to get the result of the formula 2 power 9,999,999. While running the calculation using “bc” in Linux. there another command to track the running processes in real time.
So, as you are running the calculations, you use another utility called “top” in RedHat Linux.
Once you run “top”, the system shows you on the screen a list of applications, with all details about the resources consumed for each. The list is updated every few seconds, and each line shows the name of application.
So, to see the computation performance of “bc”, you look up the line that says “bc”. Then, you look on the same line that will show you information about “bc” like:
1-the time it is been running
2-The memory consumption in % of total ram
3-How much CPU power is being used for the application in %
and more variables.
You can watch the screen for the updated time the application
has been running for the current moment. Once the calculation is presented on the screen, you will know the calculation is done. You look at the time you just recorded right before the application ended.
The time the application took to calculate the formula: 2^9,999,999 and the memory used, in addition to the CPU power will give you an approximate idea about what your computer can do.
Also, you can use the above test to compare two computers and get and idea about the power.
Here is an example:
If computer P II, Ram=256Mbs took 30 minutes to compute 2^9,999,999; then, you ran the same test 2^9,999,999 with P III, Ram=512Mbs that took about 15 minutes, which is 1/2 the time it took before.
Then, you can approximate that the power of P III is about twice that of P II. Do, you get the idea?
In summary, there is an easy way for you to explore the power and performance in front of you, right on the screen. I was able to achieve this task by using Linux, and Windows XP that are installed on the same computer. I also found out that Linux can do better computation that Windows Xp.