Last week, Mirapoint and HP announced that they tested a system that established a new SPECmail record of 6,250 messages per minute.Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) is a nonprofit corporation that created a set of standardized benchmarks by which computer systems can be evaluated. Instead of having to rely on vendor-supplied specifications that may be tilted in favor of a particular vendor, SPEC allows system evaluators to objectively understand the performance of computing systems used in a variety of real-world applications.One of the group\u2019s benchmarks is SPECmail2001, measuring performance of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and Post Office Protocol Version 3 (POP3) e-mail servers. This benchmark simulates a realistic workload that would be experienced in a consumer-oriented ISP e-mail system and requires minimum performance capabilities of the tested system. The basic performance measurement for SPECmail 2001 is messages per minute (MPM).The Mirapoint-HP system consisted of Mirapoint\u2019s Message Server M4000 and HP\u2019s StorageWorks Disk Array xp 128. The system was tested in April, and this is the first SPEC benchmark to be tested using a storage area network. The previous record, held by Sun running Sun Fire V1280 servers and Sun ONE Messaging Server 5.2, established a SPECmail result of 5,005 MPM.The SPECmail standard is important for consumer-oriented ISPs, since it allows them to compare competing e-mail systems using a standardized benchmark under more or less real-world conditions. It is not necessarily as relevant for those evaluating enterprise-grade messaging systems, since the standard does not test enterprise-level e-mail access loads, it does not evaluate Webmail or Internet Message Access Protocol performance, and it does not measure the impact of message attachments directly.That said, SPECmail is an important standard for a sizeable chunk of the messaging market, namely those providers that offer messaging services to hundreds of thousands or millions of consumer-level users.