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The tremendous power and low price of today s computer systems have created the opportunity for exciting applications rich with graphics audio and video Despite this potential planning computer systems to support the intensity of these multimedia applications is an extremely difficult task We have developed a flexible model and method that allows us to predict multimedia application performance from the user s perspective Our model takes into account the components fundamental to multimedia application quality latency jitter and data loss In applying our method to three specific applications we have identified some general traits 1) processors are the bottleneck in performance for many multimedia applications 2) networks with more bandwidth often do not increase the quality of multimedia applications and 3) performance for many multimedia applications can be improved greatly by shifting capacity demand from computer system components that are heavily loaded to those that are more lightly loaded