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Category: BenchmarkXPRT development community

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

CloudXPRT is on the way

A few months ago, we wrote about the possibility of creating a datacenter XPRT. In the intervening time, we’ve discussed the idea with folks both in and outside of the XPRT Community. We’ve heard from vendors of datacenter products, hosting/cloud providers, and IT professionals that use those products and services.

The common thread that emerged was the need for a cloud benchmark that can accurately measure the performance of modern, cloud-first applications deployed on modern infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms, whether those platforms are on-premises, hosted elsewhere, or some combination of the two (hybrid clouds). Regardless of where clouds reside, applications are increasingly using them in latency-critical, highly available, and high-compute scenarios.

Existing datacenter benchmarks do not give a clear indication of how applications will perform on a given IaaS infrastructure, so the benchmark should use cloud-native components on the actual stacks used for on-prem and public cloud management.

We are planning to call the benchmark CloudXPRT. Our goal is for CloudXPRT to address the needs described above while also including the elements that have made the other XPRTs successful. We plan for CloudXPRT to

  • Be relevant to on-prem (datacenter), private, and public cloud deployments
  • Run on top of cloud platform software such as Kubernetes
  • Include multiple workloads that address common scenarios like web applications, AI, and media analytics
  • Support multi-tier workloads
  • Report relevant metrics including both throughput and critical latency for responsiveness-driven applications and maximum throughput for applications dependent on batch processing

CloudXPRT’s workloads will use cloud-native components on an actual stack to provide end-to-end performance metrics that allow users to choose the best IaaS configuration for their business.

We’ve been building and testing preliminary versions of CloudXPRT for the last few months. Based on the progress so far, we are shooting to have a Community Preview of CloudXPRT ready in mid- to late-March with a version for general availability ready about two months later.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be working on getting out more information about CloudXPRT and continuing to talk with interested parties about how they can help. We’d love to hear what workflows would be of most interest to you and what you would most like to see in a datacenter/cloud benchmark. Please feel free to contact us!

Bill

The XPRTs in 2019: Looking back on an exciting and productive year

2019 is winding down, and we want to take this opportunity to review another exciting and productive year for the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. Readers of our newsletter are familiar with the stats and updates we post in each month’s mailing, but we know that not all our blog readers receive the newsletter, so we’ve compiled the highlights below.

Trade shows
Earlier this year, Justin attended CES in Las Vegas and Mark travelled to MWC Barcelona. These shows help us keep up with the latest industry trends and gather insights that help to lay the groundwork for XPRT development in the years ahead.

Benchmarks
In the past year, we released MobileXPRT 3, HDXPRT 4, and AIXPRT, our new AI benchmark tool that helps you evaluate a system’s machine learning inference performance. There’s much more to come in 2020 with AIXPRT and several other projects, so expect more news about benchmark development early in the year.

Web mentions
In 2019 so far, journalists, advertisers, and analysts have referenced the XPRTs over 5,000 times, including mentions in more than 190 articles and 1,350 device reviews. This represents a more than 50% increase over 2018.

Downloads and confirmed runs
To date, we’ve had more than 24,800 benchmark downloads and 153,000 confirmed runs in 2019, increases of more than 8% and 10%, respectively, over 2018. Within the last month, our most popular benchmark, WebXPRT, passed the 500,000-run milestone! WebXPRT continues to be an industry-standard performance benchmark upon which OEM labs, vendors, and leading tech press outlets rely.

XPRT Tech Spotlight
We put 47 new devices in the XPRT Tech Spotlight throughout the year and published updated back-to-school, Black Friday, and holiday showcases to help buyers compare devices.

Media and interactive tools
We published a new XPRTs around the world infographic and an interactive AIXPRT installation package selector tool. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the tool. We encourage you to give it a try if you’re curious about AIXPRT but aren’t sure how to get started.

We’re thankful for everyone who used the XPRTs, joined the community, and sent questions and suggestions throughout 2019. This will be our last blog post for 2019, but there’s much more to come in 2020, including some exciting new developments. Stay tuned in early January for updates!

Justin

HDXPRT 4 v1.2 and the HDXPRT 4 source code package are available

This week, we have good news for HDXPRT 4 testers. A few weeks ago, we discussed the fact that Adobe removed the trial version of Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) 2018 from the PSE download page. HDXPRT 4 used PSE 2018 for the Edit Photos scenario, so this change meant that new HDXPRT testers would not be able to successfully install and run the benchmark.

Fortunately, we were able to adapt the Edit Photos scripts to use the new trial version of PSE 2020, and have incorporated those changes in an updated HDXPRT 4 build (v1.2). It’s available for download on HDXPRT.com, along with an updated user manual. Apart from slightly different instructions for installing the trial version of PSE 2020, all aspects of the installation and test process remain the same. We tested the new build and found that individual workload and overall scores did not vary significantly, so scores from the new build will be comparable to existing HDXPRT 4 scores.

We also posted the HDXPRT 4 source code and build instructions on the HDXPRT tab in the Members’ Area (login required). If you’d like to review XPRT source code, but haven’t yet joined the community, we encourage you to join! Registration is quick and easy, and if you work for a company or organization with an interest in benchmarking, you can join for free. Simply fill out the form with your company e-mail address and select the option to be considered for a free membership. We’ll contact you to verify the address and then activate your membership.

We apologize to HDXPRT testers for the inconvenience over the last several weeks, and we thank you for your patience while we worked on a solution. If you have any questions about HDXPRT or the community, please feel free to ask!

Justin

Coming soon: An interactive AIXPRT selector tool

AI workloads are now relevant to all types of hardware, from servers to laptops to IOT devices, so we intentionally designed AIXPRT to support a wide range of potential hardware, toolkit, and workload configurations. This approach provides AIXPRT testers with a tool that is flexible enough to adapt to a variety of environments. The downside is that the number of options makes it fairly complicated to figure out which AIXPRT download package suits your needs.

To help testers navigate this complexity, we’ve been working on a new interactive selector tool. The tool is not yet live, but the screenshots and descriptions below provide a preview of what’s to come.

The tool will include drop-down menus for the key factors that go into determining the correct AIXPRT download package, along with a description of the options. Users can proceed in any order but will need to make a selection for each category. Since not all combinations work together, each selection the user makes will eliminate some of the options in the remaining categories.

AIXPRT user guide snip 1

After a user selects an option, a check mark appears on the category icon, and the selection for that category appears in the category box (e.g., TensorFlow in the Toolkit category). This shows users which categories they’ve completed and the selections they’ve made. After a user selects options in more than one category, a Start over button appears in the lower-left corner. Clicking this button clears all existing selections and provides users with a clean slate.

Once every category is complete, a Download button appears in the lower-right corner. When you click this, a popup appears that provides a link for the correct download package and associated readme file.

AIXPRT user guide snip 2

We hope the selector tool will help make the AIXPRT download and installation process easier for those who are unfamiliar with the benchmark. Testers who already know exactly which package they need will be able to bypass the tool and go directly to a download table.

The tool will debut with the AIXPRT 1.0 GA in the next few days, and we’ll let everyone know when that happens! If you have any questions or comments about AIXPRT, please let us know.

Justin

Progress updates: HDXPRT 4 and AIXPRT

Over the next few weeks, we’re expecting to publish both an updated HDXPRT 4 build and the AIXPRT public release (GA). Timelines may change as a result of development or testing issues, but we want to provide a brief update on where both projects stand.

HDXPRT 4

As we discussed last week, Adobe removed Photoshop Elements 2018, the application that HDXPRT 4 uses for the Edit Photos scenario, from their public download page. This means that new HDXPRT 4 testers are currently unable to successfully complete the benchmark installation process.

To fix the problem, we adapted HDXPRT 4’s Edit Photos scripts to use PSE 2020, and we hope to begin testing by the end of this week. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we put a solution in place, and we’ll publish the new build as soon as possible.

AIXPRT

We’re now in the third week of the AIXPRT Community Preview 3 (CP3) period, and we’re working on finalizing the AIXPRT GA installation packages for release. Because several of AIXPRT’s component toolkits release updates on a regular basis, it’s likely that we’ll need to update AIXPRT’s installation packages more frequently than we have with previous XPRT benchmarks. At the moment, we’re working to integrate and test recent updates to OpenVINO and TensorRT before GA.

As usual, we’ll keep you informed here in the blog. If you have any questions or comments about HDXPRT or AIXPRT, please let us know. We do value your feedback.

Justin

Check out the other XPRTs: