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Category: MobileXPRT 3

Notes from the lab: Updates on HDXPRT 4, MobileXPRT 3, and AIXPRT

The next couple of months will be very busy with XPRT activity, so we want to update readers on what to expect. Depending on a number of factors, we expect to release HDXPRT 4 and MobileXPRT 3 community previews (CPs) within the next four to six weeks. We’re also hoping to publish an early AIXPRT request-for-comment (RFC) build on GitHub within the same time frame. Here’s a little more detail about each of these developments.

HDXPRT 4: We originally planned to release the HDXPRT 4 CP several weeks ago. As we recently discussed in the blog, a lot has changed in the Windows 10 development world within a short period of time, and Microsoft has released a number of new Redstone 5/October 2018 Update builds in quick succession. While our HDXPRT 4 CP candidate testing went well overall, we observed some inconsistent workload scores when testing on some of the new Windows builds. Since then, we believe we’ve narrowed down the list of possible causes to a few specific graphics driver versions, but we’re still testing to make sure there are no other immediate issues. As soon as we’re confident in that assessment, we’ll release the CP along with any relevant information about the affected graphics drivers.

MobileXPRT 3: MobileXPRT 3 development is progressing nicely, and we’re close to completing a CP candidate build. We’ll test that build extensively on our library of Android phones and tablets, and barring any unforeseen issues, we plan to release the CP in the next few weeks.

AIXPRT: AIXPRT is the umbrella name for a set of tools we’re developing to help evaluate machine learning performance. After a great deal of research, we’re getting closer to releasing a build – tentatively called the AIXPRT RFC – for community members and other interested parties to download and review. For a number of reasons, the AIXPRT RFC process will be a little different than our normal XPRT RFC and CP process. We’ll be offering more information on the AIXPRT RFC build over the next several weeks.

We’re grateful to everyone who’s contributed in any way to each of these projects, and we look forward to sharing the benchmarks with the world. If you have any questions about the XPRTs, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Justin

Updates on HDXPRT 4 and MobileXPRT 3

There’s a lot going on with the XPRTs, so we want to offer a quick update.

On the HDXPRT 4 front, we’re currently testing community preview candidate builds across a variety of laptops and desktops. Testing is going well, but as is often the case prior to a release, we’re still tweaking the code as necessary when we run into bugs. We’re excited about HDXPRT 4 and look forward to the community seeing how much faster and easier to use it is than previous versions. You can read more about what’s to come in HDXPRT 4 here.

On the MobileXPRT 3 front, proof-of-concept testing for the new and updated workloads went well, and we’re now working to implement the new UI. Below, you can see a mockup of the new MobileXPRT 3 start screen for phones. The aesthetic is completely different than MobileXPRT 2015, and is in line with the clean, bright look we used for WebXPRT 3 and HDXPRT 4. We’ve made it easy to select and deselect individual workloads by tapping the workload name (deselected workloads are grayed out), and we’ve consolidated common menu items into an Android-style taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Please note that this is an early view and some aspects of the screen will change. For instance, we’re certain that the final receipt-scanning workload won’t be called “Optical character recognition.”

We’ll share more information about HDXPRT 4 and MobileXPRT 3 in the coming weeks. If you have any questions about HDXPRT or MobileXPRT, or would like to share your ideas, please get in touch!

Justin

MobileXPRT-3-main-phone

Notes from the lab: choosing a calibration system for MobileXPRT 3

Last week, we shared some details about what to expect in MobileXPRT 3. This week, we want to provide some insight into one part of the MobileXPRT development process, choosing a calibration system.

First, some background. For each of the benchmarks in the XPRT family, we select a calibration system using criteria we’ll explain below. This system serves as a reference point, and we use it to calculate scores that will help users understand a single benchmark result. The calibration system for MobileXPRT 2015 is the Motorola DROID RAZR M. We structured our calculation process so that the mean performance score from repeated MobileXPRT 2015 runs on that device is 100. A device that completes the same workloads 20 percent faster than the DROID RAZR M would have a performance score of 120, and one that performs the test 20 percent more slowly would have a score of 80. (You can find a more in-depth explanation of MobileXPRT score calculations in the Exploring MobileXPRT 2015 white paper.)

When selecting a calibration device, we are looking for a relevant reference point in today’s market. The device should be neither too slow to handle modern workloads nor so fast that it outscores most devices on the market. It should represent a level of performance that is close to what the majority of consumers experience, and one that will continue to be relevant for some time. This approach helps to build context for the meaning of the benchmark’s overall score. Without that context, testers can’t tell whether a score is fast or slow just by looking at the raw number. When compared to a well-known standard such as the calibration device, however, the score has more informative value.

To determine a suitable calibration device for MobileXPRT 3, we started by researching the most popular Android phones by market share around the world. It soon became clear that in many major markets, the Samsung Galaxy S8 ranked first or second, or at least appeared in the top five. As last year’s first Samsung flagship, the S8 is no longer on the cutting edge, but it has specs that many current mid-range phones are deploying, and the hardware should remain relevant for a couple of years.

For all of these reasons, we made the Samsung Galaxy S8 the calibration device for MobileXPRT 3. The model in our lab has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4 GB of RAM, and runs Android 7.0 (Nougat). We think it has the balance we’re looking for.

If you have any questions or concerns about MobileXPRT 3, calibration devices, or score calculations, please let us know. We look forward to sharing more information about MobileXPRT 3 as we get closer to the community preview.

Justin

News from the MobileXPRT 3 team

A few months ago, we shared some of our thoughts during the early planning stages of MobileXPRT 3 development. Since then, we’ve started building the new benchmark with Android Studio SDK 27. We’re now at a place where we can share more details about what to expect in MobileXPRT 3. In a nutshell, one of the five workloads in the previous version, MobileXPRT 2015, is getting a major overhaul, the remaining four workloads are getting updated test content, and we’re adding one completely new workload.

One of the first challenges we tackled was to completely rebuild the Create Slideshow workload. In MobileXPRT 2015, the workload uses FFmpeg to convert photos into video. FFmpeg utilizes a C++ executable, and it needs to be compiled differently for different architectures such as x86, x64, arm32, arm64, etc. With each new Android version, the task of maintaining FFmpeg compatibility with numerous architectures and Android versions becomes more complex. MobileXPRT 2015 still works well on most Android devices, but we wanted a more future-proof solution. In MobileXPRT 3, the Create Slideshow workload will use the Android MediaCodec API instead of FFmpeg. This change enables the workload to run successfully on devices that could not complete the workload in MobileXPRT 2015.

We are updating the test content of the following workloads: Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos. We will replace items such as photos and videos with more contemporary file resolutions and sizes where applicable.

In the mobile device market, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities are rapidly moving from the level of novelty to being integrated into many daily tasks, so we wanted to include an AI or ML element in MobileXPRT 3. Our new workload uses Google’s Mobile Vision API to perform optical character recognition (OCR) tasks involving scanning receipts for personal records or an expense report. The scenario is similar to the OCR receipt-scanning task in WebXPRT 3, though the two workloads are based on different text-recognition technologies.

Finally, we’re updating the MobileXPRT UI to improve the look of the benchmark and make it easier to use. We’ll share a sneak peek of the new UI here in the blog around the time of the community preview. If you have any questions about MobileXPRT 2015 or MobileXPRT 3, please let us know!

Justin

Planning the next version of MobileXPRT

We’re in the early planning stages for the next version of MobileXPRT, and invite you to send us any suggestions you may have. What do you like or not like about MobileXPRT? What features would you like to see in a new version?

When we begin work on a new version of any XPRT, one of the first steps we take is to assess the benchmark’s workloads to determine whether they will provide value during the years ahead. This step almost always involves updating test content such as photos and videos to more contemporary file resolutions and sizes, and it can also involve removing workloads or adding completely new scenarios. MobileXPRT currently includes five performance scenarios (Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Create Slideshow, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos). Should we stick with these five or investigate other use cases? What do you think?

As we did with WebXPRT 3 and the upcoming HDXPRT 4, we’re also planning to update the MobileXPRT UI to improve the look of the benchmark and make it easier to use.

Crucially, we’ll also build the app using the most current Android Studio SDK. Android development has changed significantly since we released MobileXPRT 2015 and apps must now conform to stricter standards that require explicit user permission for many tasks. Navigating these changes shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s always possible that we’ll encounter unforeseen challenges at some point during the process.

Do you have suggestions for test scenarios that we should consider for MobileXPRT? Are there existing features we should remove? Are there elements of the UI that you find especially useful or have ideas for improving? Please let us know. We want to hear from you and make sure that MobileXPRT continues to meet your needs.

Justin

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