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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

The XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase helps you shop with confidence

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here, and you may be feeling overwhelmed by the sea of tech gifts to choose from. The XPRTs are here to help. We’ve gathered the product specs and performance facts for some of the hottest tech devices in one convenient place—the XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase. The Showcase is a free shopping tool that provides side-by-side comparisons of some of the season’s most popular smartphones, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and PCs. It helps you make informed buying decisions so you can shop with confidence this holiday season.

Want to know how the Google Pixel 4 stacks up against the Apple iPhone 11 or Samsung Galaxy Note10 in web browsing performance or screen size? Simply select any two devices in the Showcase and click Compare. You can also search by device type if you’re interested in a specific form factor such as consoles or tablets.

The Showcase doesn’t go away after Black Friday. We’ll rename it the XPRT Holiday Showcase and continue to add devices such as the Microsoft Surface Pro X throughout the shopping season. Be sure to check back in and see how your tech gifts measure up.

If this is the first you’ve heard about the XPRT Tech Spotlight, here’s a little background. Our hands-on testing process equips consumers with accurate information about how devices function in the real world. We test devices using our industry-standard BenchmarkXPRT tools: WebXPRT, MobileXPRT, TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, BatteryXPRT, and HDXPRT. In addition to benchmark results, we include photographs, specs, and prices for all products. New devices come online weekly, and you can browse the full list of almost 200 that we’ve featured to date on the Spotlight page.

If you represent a device vendor and want us to feature your product in the XPRT Tech Spotlight, please visit the website for more details.

Justin

Understanding AIXPRT’s default number of requests

A few weeks ago, we discussed how AIXPRT testers can adjust the key variables of batch size, levels of precision, and number of concurrent instances by editing the JSON test configuration file in the AIXPRT/Config directory. In addition to those key variables, there is another variable in the config file called “total_requests” that has a different default setting depending on the AIXPRT test package you choose. This setting can significantly affect a test run, so it’s important for testers to know how it works.

The total_requests variable specifies how many inference requests AIXPRT will send to a network (e.g., ResNet-50) during one test iteration at a given batch size (e.g., Batch 1, 2, 4, etc.). This simulates the inference demand that the end users place on the system. Because we designed AIXPRT to run on different types of hardware, it makes sense to set the default number of requests for each test package to suit the most likely hardware environment for that package.

For example, testing with OpenVINO on Windows aligns more closely with a consumer (i.e., desktop or laptop) scenario than testing with OpenVINO on Ubuntu, which is more typical of server/datacenter testing. Desktop testers require a much lower inference demand than server testers, so the default total_requests settings for the two packages reflect that. The default for the OpenVINO/Windows package is 500, while the default for the OpenVINO/Ubuntu package is 5,000.

Also, setting the number of requests so low that a system finishes each workload in less than 1 second can produce high run-to-run variation, so our default settings represent a lower boundary that will work well for common test scenarios.

Below, we provide the current default total_requests setting for each AIXPRT test package:

  • MXNet: 1,000
  • OpenVINO Ubuntu: 5,000
  • OpenVINO Windows: 500
  • TensorFlow Ubuntu: 100
  • TensorFlow Windows: 10
  • TensorRT Ubuntu: 5,000
  • TensorRT Windows: 500


Testers can adjust these variables in the config file according to their own needs. Finding the optimal combination of machine learning variables for each scenario is often a matter of trial and error, and the default settings represent what we think is a reasonable starting point for each test package.

To adjust the total_requests setting, start by locating and opening the JSON test configuration file in the AIXPRT/Config directory. Below, we show a section of the default config file (CPU_INT8.json) for the OpenVINO-Windows test package (AIXPRT_1.0_OpenVINO_Windows.zip). For each batch size, the total_requests setting appears at the bottom of the list of configurable variables. In this case, the default setting Is 500. Change the total_requests numerical value for each batch size in the config file, save your changes, and close the file.

Total requests snip

Note that if you are running multiple concurrent instances, OpenVINO and TensorRT automatically distribute the number of requests among the instances. MXNet and TensorFlow users must manually allocate the instances in the config file. You can find an example of how to structure manual allocation here. We hope to make this process automatic for all toolkits in a future update.

We hope this information helps you understand the total_requests setting, and why the default values differ from one test package to another. If you have any questions or comments about this or other aspects of AIXPRT, please let us know.

Justin

AIXPRT is here!

We’re happy to announce that AIXPRT is now available to the public! AIXPRT includes support for the Intel OpenVINO, TensorFlow, and NVIDIA TensorRT toolkits to run image-classification and object-detection workloads with the ResNet-50 and SSD-MobileNet v1networks, as well as a Wide and Deep recommender system workload with the Apache MXNet toolkit. The test reports FP32, FP16, and INT8 levels of precision.

To access AIXPRT, visit the AIXPRT download page. There, a download table displays the AIXPRT test packages. Locate the operating system and toolkit you wish to test and click the corresponding Download link. For detailed installation instructions and information on hardware and software requirements for each package, click the package’s Readme link. If you’re not sure which AIXPRT package to choose, the AIXPRT package selector tool will help to guide you through the selection process.

In addition, the Helpful Info box on AIXPRT.com contains links to a repository of AIXPRT resources, as well links to XPRT blog discussions about key AIXPRT test configuration settings such as batch size and precision.

We hope AIXPRT will prove to be a valuable tool for you, and we’re thankful for all the input we received during the preview period! If you have any questions about AIXPRT, please let us know.

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

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