DATE: Mon 22 Oct 2012
BY: Stephen Aldridge
Well a little update to the whiteboard… IT GREW! We now have a new addition to the wall and more m2 to graffiti…
With the new board came the desire for a purge of the old however the Intel processor benchmark scores managed to stay prominent.
I might add that we have had an explosion of new technology in the company as well as new team members that have joined. This has heightened the debate of the perfect machine for Excel!
So as I sit here and write this the antics are still on-going and the team are trying to determine which new machine is currently performing the best. You may remember from the last post we took delivery of two shiny new PCs from Dee at www.asyouneed.com which now sit comfortably in our two meeting rooms. In addition, Stephen took delivery of a new Lenovo Thinkpad as his last one, I am sad to say, finally died after many years of trusty service. Two minutes after the new one arrived, the old was forgotten.
We chose to purchase three new laptops from Dell for the new team members and again when the new kit arrived there was a general “Wow…that boots fast” although Stephen cooed in the background “not as fast as mine” grinning like a Cheshire cat. Little did he know what awaited.
After a general office conversation took a few side turns it was decided to see who had the best performing laptop in the office on a level playing field. An old financial model was pulled from the library and set to run on each computer. The model was identified as a good testing platform because it utilised both single- and multi-threaded operations (some VBA calculations with a few iterations of the core Excel calculations).
Interesting to note that the older Sandy Bridge family of chips still out-performed the newer Ivy Bridge version (at least in this test). Stephen was initially unhappy about this (his is the Lenovo and was outpaced by a ‘slower’ Dell) and after some tinkering with the settings he found the ‘turbo boost’ option and smiled sweetly at us all, requested a re-run and set his off again. Surprisingly it came in at 2m 50s! Not happy with this, after a full shutdown and restart, he left it to run once again and I am happy to report it came in again no better than before! The owner of the Old Dell (who shall remain nameless) is now looking for an upgrade on the web, a machine so superior, fast and elegant we all have no doubt it will wipe the floor with all the scores above.
So whilst this could be labelled ‘pointless office antics’ it actually does serve a purpose and fuels thought as to how we can use this information to ensure our clients have the best experience possible when using one of our models. The outcome clearly shows that there have been some significant computer performance advances made over the last few years and the new line of Intel chips is fairly impressive. We are now looking at building a test model to run on clients’ machines to help us gauge the performance of their computers and the impact this will have on the usability of a model. For instance, we need to be aware that a model that seems responsive on one of our more powerful laptops might perform less impressively when used on a client’s machine which could be both frustrating and reduce the efficiency of client staff. This is based on research done by IBM and nicely summarised here: http://www.decisionmodels.com/optspeed.htm.
Stephen is a Chartered Management Accountant and has over ten years of financial modelling experience both at KPMG and Deloitte. His early career included engineering, sales and corporate management roles. In 2004, Stephen joined Numeritas as a co-owner and a Managing Director.
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