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5. Maximizing Performance

Chapter 5. Maximizing Performance

Although your computer spends 99.9% of the time waiting for you to do something, the biggest concern is that other 0.1% of the time when eight seconds can seem like an eternity.

A common misconception is that — with all else being equal — a computer with a fast processor, say 3 GHz, will naturally be faster than a 2 GHz system, and the microprocessor industry wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure that new system you’re eyeing seems a whole lot faster than your year-old machine, but how much is due merely to the processor’s clock speed and how much is determined by other factors?

Now, the increased processor speed is an obvious benefit in some specific circumstances, such as when you’re performing intensive statistical calculations, using 3D modeling software, or playing particularly processor-intensive games. But in most cases, one’s qualitative assessment of a computer’s speed is based on its ability to respond immediately to mouse clicks and keystrokes, start applications quickly, open menus and dialog boxes without a delay, start up and shut down Windows quickly, and display graphics and animation smoothly. For the most part, all of these things depend far more upon correctly optimized software, the amount of installed memory, the speed of your hard drive, and the amount ....


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