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Category: Let us know your thoughts

An update on HDXPRT development

It’s been a while since we updated the community on HDXPRT development, and we’ve made a lot of progress since then. Here’s a quick summary of where we are and what to expect in the coming months.

The benchmark’s official name will be HDXPRT 4, and we’re sticking with the basic plan we outlined in the blog, which includes updating the benchmark’s real-world trial applications and workload content and improving the UI.

We’ve updated Adobe Photoshop Elements, Audacity, CyberLink Media Espresso, and HandBrake to more contemporary versions, but decided the benchmark will no longer use Apple iTunes. We sometimes encountered problems with iTunes during testing, and because we can complete the audio-related workloads using Audacity, we decided that it was OK to remove iTunes from the test. Please contact us if you have any concerns about this decision.

In addition to the editing photos, editing music, and converting videos workloads from prior versions of the benchmark, HDXPRT 4 includes two new Photoshop Elements scenarios. The first utilizes an AI tool that corrects closed eyes in photos and the second creates a single panoramic photo from seven separate photos. For the photo and video workloads, we produced new high-res photo content and 4K GoPro video footage respectively.

For the UI, our goal is to implement a clean and functional design and align it more closely with the themes, colors, and font styles we’ll be implementing in the XPRTs moving forward. The WebXPRT 3 UI will give you a feel for the direction the HDXPRT UI is headed.

Some of these details may change as we test preliminary builds, but we wanted to give you a better sense of where HDXPRT is headed. We’re not ready to share a date for the community preview, but will provide more details as the day approaches.

If you have any questions or comments about HDXPRT, please let us know. It’s not too late to for us to consider your input for HDXPRT 4.

Justin

Planning the next version of HDXPRT

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the capabilities and benefits of HDXPRT. This week, we want to share some initial ideas for the next version of HDXPRT, and invite you to send us any comments or suggestions you may have.

The first step towards a new HDXPRT will be updating the benchmark’s workloads to increase their value in the years to come. Primarily, this will involve updating application content, such as photos and videos, to more contemporary file resolutions and sizes. We think 4K-related workloads will increase the benchmark’s relevance, but aren’t sure whether 4K playback tests are necessary. What do you think?

The next step will be to update versions of the real-world trial applications included in the benchmark, including Adobe Photoshop Elements, Apple iTunes, Audacity, CyberLink MediaEspresso, and HandBrake. Are there other any applications you feel would be a good addition to HDXPRT’s editing photos, editing music, or converting videos test scenarios?

We’re also planning to update the UI to improve the look and feel of the benchmark and simplify navigation and functionality.

Last but not least, we’ll work to fix known problems, such as the hardware acceleration settings issue in MediaEspresso, and eliminate the need for workarounds when running HDXPRT on the Windows 10 Creators Update.

Do you have feedback on these ideas or suggestions for applications or test scenarios that we should consider for HDXPRT? Are there existing features we should remove? Are there elements of the UI that you find especially useful or would like to see improved? Please let us know. We want to hear from you and make sure that HDXPRT continues to meet your needs.

Justin

HDXPRT: see how your Windows PC handles media tasks

Over the last several weeks, we reminded readers of the capabilities and benefits of TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, and BatteryXPRT. This week, we’d like to highlight HDXPRT. HDXPRT, which stands for High Definition Experience & Performance Ratings Test, was the first benchmark published by the HDXPRT Development Community, which later became the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. HDXPRT evaluates the performance of Windows devices while handling real-world media tasks such as photo editing, video conversion, and music editing, all while using real commercial applications, including Photoshop and iTunes. HDXPRT presents results that are relevant and easy to understand.

We originally distributed HDXPRT on installation DVDs, but HDXPRT 2014, the latest version, is available for download from HDXPRT.com. HDXPRT 2014 is for systems running Windows 8.1 and later. The benchmark takes about 10 minutes to install, and a run takes less than two hours.

HDXPRT is a useful tool for anyone who wants to evaluate the real-world, content-creation capabilities of a Windows PC. To see test results from a variety of systems, go to HDXPRT.com and click View Results, where you’ll find scores from many different Windows devices.

If you’d like to run HDXPRT:

Simply download HDXPRT from HDXPRT.com. The HDXPRT user manual provides information on minimum system requirements, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to configure your system and kick off a test. Testers running HDXPRT on Windows 10 Creators Update builds should consult the tech support note posted on HDXPRT.com.

If you’d like to dig into the details:

Check out the Exploring HDXPRT 2014 white paper. In it, we discuss the benchmark’s three test scenarios in detail and show how we calculate the results.

If you’d like to dig even deeper, the HDXPRT source code is available to members of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, so consider joining today. Membership is free for members of any company or organization with an interest in benchmarks, and there are no obligations after joining.

If you haven’t used HDXPRT before, give it a shot and let us know what you think!

On another note, Bill will be attending Mobile World Congress in Shanghai next week. Let us know if you’d like to meet up and discuss the XPRTs or how to get your device in the XPRT Spotlight.

Justin

Thinking ahead to WebXPRT 2017

A few months ago, Bill discussed our intention to update WebXPRT this year. Today, we want to share some initial ideas for WebXPRT 2017 and ask for your input.

Updates to the workloads provide an opportunity to increase the relevance and value of WebXPRT in the years to come. Here are a few of the ideas we’re considering:

  • For the Photo Enhancement workload, we can increase the data sizes of pictures. We can also experiment with additional types of photo enhancement such as background/foreground subtraction, collage creation, or panoramic/360-degree image viewing.
  • For the Organize Album workload, we can explore machine learning workloads by incorporating open source JavaScript libraries into web-based inferencing tests.
  • For the Local Notes workload, we’re investigating the possibility of leveraging natural-brain libraries for language processing functions.
  • For a new workload, we’re investigating the possibility of using online 3D modeling applications such as Tinkercad.

 
For the UI, we’re considering improvements to features like the in-test progress bars and individual subtest selection. We’re also planning to update the UI to make it visually distinct from older versions.

Throughout this process, we want to be careful to maintain the features that have made WebXPRT our most popular tool, with more than 141,000 runs to date. We’re committed to making sure that it runs quickly and simply in most browsers and produces results that are useful for comparing web browsing performance across a wide variety of devices.

Do you have feedback on these ideas or suggestions for browser technologies or test scenarios that we should consider for WebXPRT 2017? Are there existing features we should ditch? Are there elements of the UI that you find especially useful or would like to see improved? Please let us know. We want to hear from you and make sure that we’re crafting a performance tool that continues to meet your needs.

Justin

A clarification from Brett Howse

A couple of weeks ago, I described a conversation I had with Brett Howse of AnandTech. Brett was kind enough to send a clarification of some of his remarks, which he gave us permission to share with you.

“We are at a point in time where the technology that’s been called mobile since its inception is now at a point where it makes sense to compare it to the PC. However we struggle with the comparisons because the tools used to do the testing do not always perform the same workloads. This can be a major issue when a company uses a mobile workload, and a desktop workload, but then puts the resulting scores side by side, which can lead to misinformed conclusions. This is not only a CPU issue either, since on the graphics side we have OpenGL well established, along with DirectX, in the PC space, but our mobile workloads tend to rely on OpenGL ES, with less precision asked of the GPU, and GPUs designed around this. Getting two devices to run the same work is a major challenge, but one that has people asking what the results would be.”

I really appreciate Brett taking the time to respond. What are your thoughts in these issues? Please let us know!

Eric

Please let us know

Todd Reifsteck from the Web Platform Team at Microsoft was kind enough to let me share a conversation we had last week:

Todd reported he was having problems running WebXPRT on the Edge browser. This was a surprise to us, as we’d already released a WebXPRT update to resolve Edge browser issues.

We were not seeing this problem, and as we talked with Todd we verified there was no issue in WebXPRT itself. The fix we released was working; however, we found a path through the web site that launched the previous version of WebXPRT. Once we fixed that URL to point to the latest version of WebXPRT, Todd reported that WebXPRT was working with Edge, just as we expected.

This problem would not have affected results on other browsers. The results from the previous version of WebXPRT are comparable to the current version. Compatibility with the Edge browser is the only difference between the versions.

Thanks to Todd for his help. As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any issues or questions. We’ll do our best to resolve them as quickly as possible.

Eric

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