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Efficiency

Efficiency is usually defined as throughput divided by utilization. When comparing two components, if one has a higher throughput at the same level of utilization, it is regarded as more efficient. If both have the same throughput but one has a lower level of utilization, that one is regarded as more efficient. While useful as a basis for comparing components, this definition is otherwise irrelevant, because it is only a division of two other parameters of performance.

A more useful measure of efficiency is performance per unit cost. This is usually called cost efficiency. Performance tuning is the art of increasing cost efficiency: getting more bang for your buck. In fact, the Internet itself owes its popularity to the fact that it is much more cost-efficient than previously existing alternatives for transferring small amounts of information. Email is vastly more cost-efficient than a letter. Both send about the same amount of information, but email has near-zero latency and near-zero incremental cost; it doesn’t cost you any more to send two emails rather than one.


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