I've just stumbled over one of our hardware-related Q&As again and it reminded me of something that always itches me when it comes to missing hardware specs.

For examle, How fast a middle-class computer can verify assymetric signatures (like ECDSA, RSA etc.)? asks about:

... How many signatures, which sign some message (ECDSA or RSA or whatever is fast and secure) can middle-class computer verify per second (I would like to predict it to know how such network could scale)?

Now, we can all guess and probably agree on what OP might categorize to be a "middle-class desktop", but a guess is still a guess. Also, what is middle-class today will be old hardware in a few months or even a year.

As a consequence, answers are bound to be outdated as hardware evolves... which means the Q would remain somewhat open-ended as time goes by. Whenever hardware evolves, existing answers will come closer to be outdated (and therefore wrong at some time in the future) while keeping the door open for newer answers that would then be more correct.

Now, we could simply void the problem by requiring such general hardware-related questions by requiring the asker(s) to specify the exact hardware they are asking about, as such clarification can limit the scope to "this hardware (range) " instead of being a "some rather broad hardware category at the time of asking this".

Since we tend to get alike questions from time to time (with alike problems) and I constantly end up asking for clarification (which not always works) , I'ld like to ask for community feedback...

Should we generally require hardware-related questions to specify specs (or at least a spec range)?

  • I think it's fine if the question leaves some leeway here. But the answer which provides a specific number should specify on which hardware this number was measured. – CodesInChaos Jun 25 at 14:55
  • @codesinchaos If you'ld post that as an answer, I (and others) could upvote it and potentially accept it. – e-sushi Jun 25 at 15:18
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Doing our usual mod team-work (quoting CodesInChaos):

I think it's fine if the question leaves some leeway here. But the answer which provides a specific number should specify on which hardware this number was measured.

paired with the observation that a too specific requirement (eg on this specific CPU) will usually prevent answers because getting measurements or extrapolations for that hardware may be hard (eg if it was AWS' custom Intel CPU or a POWER9 CPU).

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