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Category: battery life

Considering a battery life test for WebXPRT 4

A few weeks ago, we discussed the beginnings of a WebXPRT 4 development plan, and asked for reader feedback about potential workload changes. So far, the two most common feedback topics have been the possible addition of a WebAssembly workload, and the feasibility of including a browser-based battery life test. Today, we discuss what a WebXPRT 4 battery life test would look like, and some of the challenges we’d have to overcome to make it a reality.

Battery life tests fall into two primary categories: simple rundown tests and performance-weighted tests. Simple rundown tests measure battery life during extreme idle periods and loops of movie playbacks, etc., but do not reflect the wide-ranging mix of activities that characterize a typical day for most users. While they can be useful for performing very specific apple-to-apples comparisons, these tests have limited value when it comes to giving consumers a realistic estimation of the battery life they would experience during everyday use.

In contrast, performance-weighted battery life tests, such as the one in CrXPRT 2, attempt to reflect real-world usage. The CrXPRT battery life test simulates common daily usage patterns for Chromebooks by including all the productivity workloads from the performance test, plus video playback, audio playback, and gaming scenarios. It also includes periods of wait/idle time. We believe this mixture of diverse activity and idle time better represents typical real-life behavior patterns. This makes the resulting estimated battery life much more helpful for consumers who are trying to match a device’s capabilities with their real-world needs.

From a technical standpoint, WebXPRT’s cross-platform nature presents us with several challenges that we did not face while developing the CrXPRT battery life test for Chrome OS. While the WebXPRT performance tests run in almost any browser, cross-browser differences in battery life reporting may restrict the battery life test to a single browser. For instance, Mozilla has deprecated the battery status API for Firefox, and we’re not yet sure if there’s another approach that would work. If a WebXPRT 4 battery life test supported only a single browser, such as Chrome or Safari, would you still be interested in using it? Please let us know.

A browser-based battery life workflow also presents other challenges that we do not face in native client applications such as CrXPRT:

  • A browser-based battery life test would require the user to check the starting and ending battery capacities, with no way for the app to independently verify data accuracy.
  • The battery life test could require more babysitting in the event of network issues. We can catch network failures and try to handle them by reporting periods of network disconnection, but those interruptions could influence the battery life duration.
  • The factors above could make it difficult to achieve repeatability. One way to address that problem would be to run the test in a standardized lab environment lab with a steady internet connection, but a long list of standardized environmental requirements would make the battery life test less attractive and less accessible to many testers.

Our intention with today’s blog is not to make a WebXPRT 4 battery life test seem like an impossibility. Rather, we want to share our perspective on what the test might look like, and describe some of the challenges and considerations in play. If you have thoughts about battery life testing, or experience with battery life APIs in one or more of the major browsers, we’d love to hear from you!

Justin

Moving forward with WebXPRT 4

In the coming months, we’ll be moving forward with the first stages of the WebXPRT 4 development process. It’s been a while since we last asked readers to send their thoughts about web technologies and workloads that may be a good fit for WebXPRT 4, but we’re still very much open to ideas. If you missed our previous posts about possible changes for WebXPRT 4, we recap the most prominent ideas below. We also request specific feedback regarding a potential battery life component.

  • Community members have asked about a WebXPRT 4 battery life test. Any such test would likely be very similar to the performance-weighted battery life test in CrXPRT 2 (as opposed to a simple rundown test). While WebXPRT runs in almost any browser, cross-browser compatibility issues could cause a WebXPRT battery life test to run in only one browser. If this turned out to be the case, would you still be interested in using the battery life test? Please let us know.
  • One of the most promising ideas is the potential addition of one or more WebAssembly (WASM) workloads. WASM is a low-level, binary instruction format that works across all modern browsers. It offers web developers a great deal of flexibility and provides the speed and efficiency necessary for running complex client applications in the browser. WASM enables a variety of workload scenario options, including gaming, video editing, VR, virtual machines, image recognition, and interactive educational content.
  • We are also considering adding a web-based machine learning workload with TensorFlow for JavaScript (TensorFlow.js). TensorFlow.js offers pre-trained models for a wide range of tasks including image classification, object detection, sentence encoding, and natural language processing. We could also use this technology to enhance one of WebXPRT’s existing AI-themed workloads, such as Organize Album using AI or Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan.
  • Other ideas include using a WebGL-based workload to target GPUs, and simulating common web applications.

We’ll start work on WebXPRT 4 soon, but there’s still time to send your comments and ideas, so please do so as quickly as possible!

Justin

Potential web technology additions for WebXPRT 4

A few months ago, we invited readers to send in their thoughts and ideas about web technologies and workload scenarios that may be a good fit for the next WebXPRT. We’d like to share a few of those ideas today, and we invite you to continue to send your feedback. We’re approaching the time when we need to begin firming up plans for a WebXPRT 4 development cycle in 2021, but there’s still plenty of time for you to help shape the future of the benchmark.

One of the most promising ideas for WebXPRT 4 is the potential addition of one or more WebAssembly (WASM) workloads. WASM is a low-level, binary instruction format that works across all modern browsers. It offers web developers a great deal of flexibility and provides the speed and efficiency necessary for running complex client applications in the browser. WASM enables a variety of workload scenario options, including gaming, video editing, VR, virtual machines, image recognition, and interactive educational content.

In addition, the Chrome team is dropping Portable Native Client (PNaCL) support in favor of WASM, which is why we had to remove a PNaCL workload when updating CrXPRT 2015 to CrXPRT 2. We generally model CrXPRT workloads on existing WebXPRT workloads, so familiarizing ourselves with WASM could ultimately benefit more than one XPRT benchmark.

We are also considering adding a web-based machine learning workload with TensorFlow for JavaScript (TensorFlow.js). TensorFlow.js offers pre-trained models for a wide variety of tasks including image classification, object detection, sentence encoding, natural language processing, and more. We could also use this technology to enhance one of WebXPRT’s existing AI-themed workloads, such as Organize Album using AI or Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan.

Other ideas include using a WebGL-based workload to target GPUs and investigating ways to incorporate a battery life test. What do you think? Let us know!

Justin

Following up on CrXPRT 2 battery life errors

A few weeks ago, we discussed error messages that a tester received when starting up CrXPRT 2 after a battery life test. CrXPRT 2 battery life tests require a full battery rundown, after which the tester plugs in the Chromebook, turns it on, opens the CrXPRT 2 app, and sees the test results. In the reported cases, the tester opened the app after a battery life test that seemed successful, but saw “N/A” or “test error” messages instead of the results they expected.

During discussions about the end-of-test system environment, we realized that some testers might be unclear about how to tell that the battery has fully run down. During the system idle portion of CrXPRT 2 battery life test iterations, the Chromebook screen turns black and a small cursor appears somewhere on the screen to let testers know the test is still in progress. We believe that some testers, seeing the black screen but not the cursor, believe the system has shut down. Restarting CrXPRT 2 before the battery life test is complete could explain some of the “N/A” or “test error” messages users have reported.

If you see a black screen without a cursor, you can check to see whether the test is complete by looking for the small system power indicator light on the side or top of most Chromebooks. These are usually red, orange, or green, but if a light of any color is lit, the test is still underway. When the light goes out, the test has ended. You can plug the system in and power it on to see results.

Note that some Chromebooks provide low-battery warnings onscreen. During CrXPRT 2 battery life runs, testers should ignore these.

We hope this clears up any confusion about how to know when a CrXPRT 2 battery life test has ended. If you’ve received repeated “N/A” or “test error” messages during your CrXPRT 2 testing and the information above does not help, please let us know!

Justin

Principled Technologies and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community release the CrXPRT 2 benchmark for Chromebooks

Durham, NC, April 20— Principled Technologies and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community have released CrXPRT 2, a free app that measures Chromebook battery life, as well as how fast a Chromebook handles everyday tasks like playing video games, watching movies, editing pictures, and doing homework. Testers can install the app on Chromebooks from the Chrome Web Store or by clicking the Chrome Web Store button on CrXPRT.com.

The CrXPRT 2 performance test, which measures a Chromebook’s speed, gives testers an overall score and individual scores for each workload. In addition to an estimated battery life expressed in hours and minutes, the battery life test produces a separate performance score and a frames per second (FPS) rate for a built-in HTML5 gaming component. CrXPRT is user-friendly, delivering results that consumers can understand.

“CrXPRT is a popular, easy-to-use benchmark run by manufacturers, tech journalists, and consumers all around the world,” said Bill Catchings, co-founder of Principled Technologies, which administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. “CrXPRT 2 continues CrXPRT’s legacy of providing relevant and reliable performance and battery life data for Chrome OS devices.”

CrXPRT is part of the BenchmarkXPRT suite of performance evaluation tools, which includes AIXPRT, CloudXPRT, WebXPRT, TouchXPRT, HDXPRT, and MobileXPRT. The XPRTs help users get the facts before they buy, use, or evaluate tech products such as servers, desktops, laptops, and tablets.

To learn more about the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, go to www.BenchmarkXPRT.com.

About Principled Technologies, Inc.
Principled Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of technology marketing and learning & development services. It administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is located in Durham, North Carolina, USA. For more information, please visit www.PrincipledTechnologies.com.

Company Contact
Justin Greene
BenchmarkXPRT Development Community
Principled Technologies, Inc.
1007 Slater Road, Ste. 300 Durham, NC 27703
BenchmarkXPRTsupport@PrincipledTechnologies.com

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