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Category: Collaborative benchmark development

Adapting to a changing tech landscape

The BenchmarkXPRT Development Community started almost 10 years ago with the development of the High Definition Experience & Performance Ratings Test, also known as HDXPRT. Back then, we distributed the benchmark to interested parties by mailing out physical DVDs. We’ve come a long way since then, as testers now freely and easily access six XPRT benchmarks from our site and major app stores.

Developers, hardware manufacturers, and tech journalists—the core group of XPRT testers—work within a constantly changing tech landscape. Because of our commitment to providing those testers with what they need, the XPRTs grew as we developed additional benchmarks to expand the reach of our tools from PCs to servers and all types of notebooks, Chromebooks, and mobile devices.

As today’s tech landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, our desire to play an active role in emerging markets continues to drive us to expand our testing capabilities into areas like machine learning (AIXPRT) and cloud-first applications (CloudXPRT). While these new technologies carry the potential to increase efficiency, improve quality, and boost the bottom line for companies around the world, it’s often difficult to decide where and how to invest in new hardware or services. The ever-present need for relevant and reliable data is the reason many organizations use the XPRTs to help make confident choices about their company’s future tech.

We just released a new video that helps to explain what the XPRTs provide and how they can play an important role in a company’s tech purchasing decisions. We hope you’ll check it out!

We’re excited about the continued growth of the XPRTs, and we’re eager to meet the challenges of adapting to the changing tech landscape. If you have any questions about the XPRTs or suggestions for future benchmarks, please let us know!

Justin

News about the CloudXPRT source code

For much of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community’s history, we offered community members exclusive access to XPRT benchmark source code. Back in February, we started to experiment with a different approach when we made the AIXPRT source code publicly available on GitHub. By allowing anyone who is interested in AIXPRT to download and review the source code, we reinforced our commitment to making the XPRT development process as transparent as possible. We also want the XPRTs to continue to contribute to fair practices in the benchmarking world, and we believe that expanded access to the source code encourages constructive feedback to help in this goal.

The feedback we received after publishing the AIXPRT source code was very positive; thank you to all who reached out. Because of that feedback and our desire to increase openness, we’ve decided use standard open source licenses to make the CloudXPRT source code available to the public when we release of the first build, or shortly thereafter. As with AIXPRT, folks will be able to download the CloudXPRT source code and submit potential workloads for future consideration, but we reserve the right to control derivative works.

We’ll share more information about the first CloudXPRT release and its source code in the coming weeks. If you have any questions about XPRT source code, feel free to ask.  We also welcome any thoughts about using this approach to release the source code of other XPRT benchmarks. As always, feel free to comment below or reach out by email.

Justin

Thinking ahead to WebXPRT 4

It’s been about two years since we released WebXPRT 3, and we’re starting to think about the WebXPRT 4 development cycle. With over 529,000 runs to date, WebXPRT continues to be our most popular benchmark because it’s quick and easy to run, it runs on almost anything with a web browser, and it evaluates performance using the types of web technologies that many people use every day.

For each new version of WebXPRT, we start the development process by looking at browser trends and analyzing the feasibility of incorporating new web technologies into our workload scenarios. For example, in WebXPRT 3, we updated the Organize Album workload to include an image-classification task that uses deep learning. We also added an optical character recognition task to the Encrypt Notes and OCR scan workload, and introduced a new Online Homework workload that combined part of the DNA Sequence Analysis scenario with a writing sample/spell check scenario.

Here are the current WebXPRT 3 workloads:

  • Photo Enhancement:Applies three effects, each using Canvas, to two photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI: Detects faces and classifies images using the ConvNetJS neural network library.
  • Stock Option Pricing:Calculates and displays graphic views of a stock portfolio using Canvas, SVG, and dygraphs.js.
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan: Encrypts notes in local storage and scans a receipt using optical character recognition.
  • Sales Graphs:Calculates and displays multiple views of sales data using InfoVis and d3.js.
  • Online Homework:Performs science and English assignment tasks using Web Workers and Typo.js spell check.

What new technologies or workload scenarios should we add? Are there any existing features we should remove? Would you be interested in an associated battery life test? We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about WebXPRT, so please tell us what you think!

Justin

CloudXPRT development news

Last month, Bill announced that we were starting work on a new data center benchmark. CloudXPRT will measure the performance of modern, cloud-first applications deployed on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platformson-premises platforms, externally hosted platforms, and hybrid clouds that use a mix of the two. Our ultimate goal is for CloudXPRT to use cloud-native components on an actual stack to produce end-to-end performance metrics that can help users determine the right IaaS configuration for their business.

Today, we want to provide a quick update on CloudXPRT development and testing.

  • Installation. We’ve completely automated the CloudXPRT installation process, which leverages Kubernetes or Ansible tools depending on the target platform. The installation processes differ slightly for each platform, but testing is the same.
  • Workloads. We’re currently testing potential workloads that focus on three areas: web microservices, data analytics, and container scaling. We might not include all of these workloads in the first release, but we’ll keep the community informed and share more details about each workload as the picture becomes clearer. We are designing the workloads so that testers can use them to directly compare IaaS stacks and evaluate whether any given stack can meet service level agreement (SLA) thresholds.
  • Platforms. We want CloudXPRT to eventually support testing on a variety of popular externally hosted platforms. However, constructing a cross-platform benchmark is complicated and we haven’t yet decided which external platforms the first CloudXPRT release will support. We’ve successfully tested the current build with on-premises IaaS stacks and with one externally hosted platform, Amazon Web Services. Next, we will test the build on Google Cloud Hosting and Microsoft Azure.
  • Timeline. We are on track to meet our target of releasing a CloudXPRT preview build in late March and the first official build about two months later. If anything changes, we’ll post an updated timeline here in the blog.

If you would like to share any thoughts or comments related to CloudXPRT or cloud benchmarking, please feel free to contact us.

Justin

The AIXPRT source code is now public

This week, we have good news for AIXPRT testers: the AIXPRT source code is now available to the public via GitHub. As we’ve discussed in the past, publishing XPRT source code is part of our commitment to making the XPRT development process as transparent as possible. With other XPRT benchmarks, we’ve only made the source code available to community members. With AIXPRT, we have released the source code more widely. By allowing all interested parties, not just community members, to download and review our source code, we’re taking tangible steps to improve openness and honesty in the benchmarking industry and we’re encouraging the kind of constructive feedback that helps to ensure that the XPRTs continue to contribute to a level playing field.

Traditional open-source models encourage developers to change products and even take them in new and different directions. Because benchmarking requires a product that remains static to enable valid comparisons over time, we allow people to download the source code and submit potential workloads for future consideration, but we reserve the right to control derivative works. This discourages a situation where someone publishes an unauthorized version of the benchmark and calls it an “XPRT.”

We encourage you to download and review the source and send us any feedback you may have. Your questions and suggestions may influence future versions of AIXPRT. If you have any questions about AIXPRT or accessing the source code, please feel free to ask! Please also let us know if you think we should take this approach to releasing the source code with other XPRT benchmarks.

Justin

The XPRT activity we have planned for first half of 2020

Today, we want to let readers know what to expect from the XPRTs over the next several months. Timelines and details can always change, but we’re confident that community members will see CloudXPRT Community Preview (CP), updated AIXPRT, and CrXPRT 2 releases during the first half of 2020.

CloudXPRT

Last week, Bill shared some details about our new datacenter-oriented benchmark, CloudXPRT. If you missed that post, we encourage you to check it out and learn more about the need for a new kind of cloud benchmark, and our plans for the benchmark’s structure and metrics. We’re already testing preliminary builds, and aim to release a CloudXPRT CP in late March, followed by a version for general availability roughly two months later.

AIXPRT

About a month ago, we explained how the number of moving parts in AIXPRT will necessitate a different development approach than we’ve used for other XPRTs. AIXPRT will require more frequent updating than our other benchmarks, and we anticipate releasing the second version of AIXPRT by mid-year. We’re still finalizing the details, but it’s likely to include the latest versions of ResNet-50 and SSD-MobileNet, selected SDK updates, ease-of-use improvements for the harness, and improved installation scripts. We’ll share more detailed information about the release timeline here in the blog as soon as possible.

CrXPRT 2

As we mentioned in December, we’re working on CrXPRT 2, the next version of our benchmark that evaluates the performance and battery life of Chromebooks. You can find out more about how CrXPRT works both here in the blog and at CrXPRT.com.

We’re currently testing an alpha version of CrXPRT 2. Testing is going well, but we’re tweaking a few items and refining the new UI. We should start testing a CP candidate in the next few weeks, and will have firmer information for community members about a CP release date very soon.

We’re excited about these new developments and the prospect of extending the XPRTs into new areas. If you have any questions about CloudXPRT, AIXPRT, or CrXPRT 2, please feel free to ask!

Justin

Check out the other XPRTs: