While most workload characterization focuses on application and architecture performance, the variability in performance also has wide ranging impacts on the users and managers of large scale computing resources. Performance variability, though secondary to absolute performance itself, can significantly detract from both the overall performance realized by parallel workloads and the suitability of a given architecture for a workload. In making choices about how to best match an HPC workload to an HPC architecture most examinations focus primarily on application performance, often in terms nominal or optimal performance. A practical concern which brackets the degree to which one can expect to see this performance in a multi-user production computing environment is the degree to which performance varies. Without an understanding of the performance variability exhibited by a computer for a given workload, in a practical sense, the effective performance that can be realized is still undetermined. In this work we examine both architectural and application causes of variability, quantify their impacts, and demonstrate performance gains realized by reducing variability.