Measuring Thin-Client Performance Using Slow-Motion Benchmarking

Jason Nieh, S. Jae Yang, Naomi Novik

ACM Transactions on Computer Systems (TOCS), Volume 21, Issue 1, February, 2003, pp. 87–115


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 tech- niques commonly used for measuring desktop system performance are ill-suited for measuring the performance of thin-client systems because these benchmarks only measure application per- formance 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 eval- uating 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 conventional benchmark application. These results can then be used ei- ther independently or in conjunction with conventional benchmark results to yield an accurate and objective measure of the performance of thin-client systems. We have demonstrated the effective- ness 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 solves the problems with using conventional benchmarks on thin-client systems and is an accurate tool for analyzing the performance of these systems.



Columbia University Department of Computer Science