I wanted to do some (very rough) comparisons between different computers, seeing the relative compute performance of laptops and cloud machines (AWS EC2, rackspace, etc.).
I wanted something extremely easy and quick to run, and just wanted a rough benchmark of computation performance. Not testing parallelism, disk access, etc. I came up with the following command:
head -c100000000 < /dev/urandom | time openssl sha1 > /dev/null
That is, take 1000000000 chars from urandom, and time the duration it takes to sha1 them.
My question is: is this indeed a decent rough benchmark of a computer's processing power. Are there other toy benchmarks that might be useful in giving rough estimates of a computer's power?