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USENIX 2001 Abstract

Measuring Thin-Client Performance Using Slow-Motion Benchmarking

S. Jae Yang, Jason Nieh, and Naomi Novik, Columbia University


Modern thin-client systems are designed to provide the same graphical interfaces and applications available on traditional desktop computers while centralizing administration and allowing more efficient use of computing resources. Despite the rapidly increasing popularity of these client-server systems, there are few reliable analyses of their performance. Industry standard benchmark techniques commonly used for measuring desktop system performance are ill-suited for measuring the performance of thin-client systems because these benchmarks only measure application performance on the server, not the actual user-perceived performance on the client.

To address this problem, we have developed slow-motion benchmarking, a new measurement technique for evaluating thin-client systems. In slow-motion benchmarking, performance is measured by capturing network packet traces between a thin client and its respective server during the execution of a slow-motion version of a standard application benchmark. These results can then be used either independently or in conjunction with standard benchmark results to yield an accurate and objective measure of the performance of thin-client systems.

We have demonstrated the effectiveness of slow-motion benchmarking by using this technique to measure the performance of several popular thin-client systems in various network environments on web and multimedia workloads. Our results show that slow-motion benchmarking resolves the problems with using standard benchmarks on thin-client systems and is an accurate tool for analyzing the performance of these systems.

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