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Getting to the source

Many of the earliest benchmarks came in source code form. Dhrystone and many others relied on the compiler for optimization. In fact, some compilers even recognized the code and basically optimized it to a few lines of code that did nothing but return the result! Even some modern benchmarks, such as SPEC CPU and LINPACK, come in source code form.

The source code to application benchmarks, however, has not typically been available. Two of the leading benchmarks of the last twenty years, Winstone and SYSmark, were never available in source code form. The makers of those tools had good reasons for keeping the code private; we know, because led the creation of Winstone. Keeping code private protects your intellectual investment, can make it easier to hit development schedules, and provides many other advantages.

It also, however, can lead some people to criticize that the reason you’re not showing the source code is that it is in some way biased. In benchmarks as in so many areas, transparency is the best way to allay such concerns.

Which leads us to today’s big announcement

We want HDXPRT to be as open as possible, so we’re bucking the normal practice for application-based benchmarks and planning to make the HDXPRT 2011 source code available to the HDXPRT Development Community.

The code will include both the benchmark harness and the scripts that drive the applications. You’ll be able to study everything about the benchmark. You’ll also be able to more easily contribute new code. Which is exactly what we hope you’ll do. We want you not only to be completely comfortable with the benchmark, we want you to contribute to future versions of it.

There will, of course, be some ground rules. We are making the code available only to the HDXPRT Development Community. (If you’re not already a member, joining is cheap and easy: just go here.) Because we want to limit the code to the community, to get access to it, members will have to agree to a license agreement that prevents them from releasing it to the public.

We don’t have an exact schedule in place yet, but over the next week or two, we should have all the necessary things in place to make the source code available.

When you’ve had a chance to look at it, please let us know what improvements you would like to see in HDXPRT 2012. We’ll discuss that version, and how you can help, in the coming weeks.

Bill

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