Chapter 8. Efficient Hardware

This chapter is odd for a book on R programming. It contains very little code, and yet the chapter has the potential to speed up your algorithms by orders of magnitude. This chapter considers the impact that your computer has on your time.

Your hardware is crucial. It will not only determine how fast you can solve your problem, but also whether you can even tackle the problem of interest. This is because everything is loaded in RAM. Of course, having a more powerful computer costs money. The goal is to help you decide whether the benefits of upgrading your hardware are worth that extra cost.

We begin this chapter with a background section on computer storage and memory and how it is measured. Then we consider individual computer components, and conclude with renting machines in the cloud.


This chapter will focus on assessing your hardware and the benefit of upgrading. We will use the benchmarkme package to quantify the effect of changing your CPU.


Top Five Tips for Efficient Hardware

  1. Use the package benchmarkme to assess your CPU’s number-crunching ability; is it worth upgrading your hardware?

  2. If possible, add more RAM.

  3. Double-check that you have installed a 64-bit version of R.

  4. Cloud computing is a cost-effective way of obtaining more computer power.

  5. Solid-state drives typically won’t have much impact on the speed of your R code but will increase your overall productivity because I/0 is much faster. ...

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