With four separate machine learning toolkits on their own development schedules, three workloads, and a wide range of possible configurations and use cases, AIXPRT has more moving parts than any of the XPRT benchmark tools to date. Because there are so many different components, and because we want AIXPRT to provide consistently relevant evaluation data in the rapidly evolving AI and machine learning spaces, we anticipate a cadence of AIXPRT updates in the future that will be more frequent than the schedules we’ve used for other XPRTs in the past. With that expectation in mind, we want to let AIXPRT testers know that when we release an AIXPRT update, they can expect minimized disruption, consideration for their testing needs, and clear communication.
Each AIXPRT toolkit (Intel OpenVINO, TensorFlow, NVIDIA TensorRT, and Apache MXNet) is on its own development schedule, and we won’t always have a lot of advance notice when new versions are on the way. Hypothetically, a new version of OpenVINO could release one month, and a new version of TensorRT just two months later. Thankfully, the modular nature of AIXPRT’s installation packages ensures that we won’t need to revise the entire AIXPRT suite every time a toolkit update goes live. Instead, we’ll update each package individually when necessary. This means that if you only test with a single AIXPRT package, updates to the other packages won’t affect your testing. For us to maintain AIXPRT’s relevance, there’s unfortunately no way to avoid all disruption, but we’ll work to keep it to a minimum.
Consideration for testers
As we move forward, when software compatibility issues force us to update an AIXPRT package, we may discover that the update has a significant effect on results. If we find that results from the new package are no longer comparable to those from previous tests, we’ll share the differences that we’re seeing in our lab. As always, we will use documentation and versioning to make sure that testers know what to expect and that there’s no confusion about which package to use.
When we update any package, we’ll make sure to communicate any updates in the new build as clearly as possible. We’ll document all changes thoroughly in the package readmes, and we’ll talk through significant updates here in the blog. We’re also available to answer questions about AIXPRT and any other XPRT-related topic, so feel free to ask!
We’re happy to announce that the AIXPRT Community Preview 3 (CP3) is now available! As we discussed in last week’s blog, testers can expect three significant changes in AIXPRT CP3:
- We updated support for the Ubuntu test packages from Ubuntu version 16.04 LTS to version 18.04 LTS.
- We added TensorRT test packages for Windows and Ubuntu. Previously, AIXPRT testers could test only the TensorFlow variant of TensorRT. Now, they can use TensorRT to test systems with NVIDIA GPUs.
- We added the Wide and Deep recommender system workload with the MXNet toolkit for Ubuntu systems.
To access AIXPRT CP3, click this access link and submit the brief information form unless you’ve already done so for CP2. You will then gain access to the AIXPRT community preview page. (If you’re not already a BenchmarkXPRT Development Community member, we’ll contact you with more information about your membership.)
On the community preview page, a download table displays the currently available AIXPRT CP3 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 corresponding Readme link. Instead of providing installation guide PDFs as we did for CP2, we are now directing testers to a public GitHub repository. The repository contains the installation readmes for all the test packages, as well as a selection of alternative test configuration files. We’ll discuss the alternative configuration files in more detail in a future blog post.
Note: Those who have access to the existing AIXPRT GitHub repository will be able to access CP3 in the same way as previous versions.
We’ll continue to keep everyone up to date with AIXPRT news here in the blog. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.
We’re in the very early planning stages for the next version of TouchXPRT, and we’d love to hear any suggestions you may have. What do you like or dislike about TouchXPRT? What features do you hope to see in a new version?
For those who are unfamiliar with TouchXPRT, it’s a benchmark for evaluating the performance of Windows 10 devices. TouchXPRT 2016, the most recent version, runs tests based on five everyday scenarios (Beautify Photos, Blend Photos, Convert Videos for Sharing, Create Music Podcast, and Create Slideshow from Photos) and produces results for each of the five scenarios plus an overall score. The benchmark is available two ways: as a Universal Windows App in the Microsoft Store and as a sideload installer package on TouchXPRT.com.
When we begin work on a new version of any benchmark, one of the first steps we take is to assess its workloads to determine whether they will provide value during the years ahead. This step involves evaluating whether to update test content such as photos and videos to more contemporary file resolutions and sizes, and can also involve removing workloads or adding completely new ones. Should we keep the TouchXPRT workloads listed above or investigate other use cases? Should we research potential AI-related workloads? What do you think?
As we did with MobileXPRT 3 and HDXPRT 4 earlier this year, we’re also planning to update the TouchXPRT UI to improve the look of the benchmark and make it easier to use. We’re just at the beginning of this process, so any feedback you send has a chance to really shape the future of the benchmark.
On a related note, TouchXPRT 2016 testers who use the installer package available on TouchXPRT.com may have noticed that the package has a new file name (TX2016.6.52.0_8.19.19.zip). Microsoft requires developers to assign a security certificate to all sideload apps, and the new TouchXPRT file contains a refreshed certificate. We did not change the benchmark in any other way, so scores from this package are comparable to previous TouchXPRT 2016 scores.
At over 412,000 runs and counting, WebXPRT is our most popular benchmark. From the first release in 2013, it’s been popular with device manufacturers, developers, tech journalists, and consumers because it’s easy to run, it runs on almost anything with a web browser, and it evaluates device performance using the types of web-based tasks that people are likely to encounter on a daily basis.
With each new version of WebXPRT, we analyze browser development trends to make sure the test’s underlying web technologies and workload scenarios adequately reflect the ways people are using their browsers to work and play. BenchmarkXPRT Development Community members can play an important part in that process by sending us feedback on existing tests and suggestions for new workloads to include.
For example, when we released WebXPRT 3, we updated the photo workloads with new images and a deep learning task used for image classification. We also added an optical character recognition task in the Encrypt Notes and OCR scan workload, and combined part of the DNA Sequence Analysis scenario with a writing sample/spell check scenario to simulate online homework in an all-new Online Homework workload.
Consider for a moment what an ideal future version of WebXPRT would look like for you. Are there new web technologies or workload scenarios that you would like to see? Would you be interested in an associated battery life test? Should we include experimental tests? We’re interested in what you have to say, so please feel free to contact us with your thoughts or questions.
If you’re just now learning about WebXPRT, we offer several resources to help you better understand the benchmark and its range of uses. For a general overview of why WebXPRT matters, watch our video titled What is WebXPRT and why should I care? To read more about the details of the benchmark’s development and structure, check out the Exploring WebXPRT 3 white paper. To see WebXPRT 2015 and WebXPRT 3 scores from a wide range of processors, visit the WebXPRT 3 Processor Comparison Chart.
We look forward to hearing from you!
HandBrake recently released a new version, v1.2.2, of their video conversion software. Among other improvements, the new version includes support for certain AMD (VCE) and NVIDIA (NVENC) hardware-accelerated video encoders. Because we include HandBrake as one of the commercial applications in the HDXPRT installer package, and because we want to keep HDXPRT 4 up-to-date for testers, we’ve put together a new HDXPRT 4 build: v1.1. It includes HandBrake 1.2.2’s new capabilities, and we’re currently testing it in the lab.
With the new build, testers will be able to choose whether HDXPRT’s HandBrake tasks target a system’s integrated or discrete graphics cards by changing a flag called “UseIntegrated” in the config file. In HDXPRT 4 v1.1, the flag is set to “true” by default, directing HandBrake to use the codec provided by the system’s integrated graphics hardware. On the other hand, if a system has both integrated and discrete graphics available, and a user sets the flag to “false,” HandBrake will use the codec provided by the discrete graphics.
This update allows users to compare the video conversion performance of different video codecs on the same system. In all other respects, the benchmark has not changed. So apart from a scenario where a tester changes the targeted graphics hardware, scores from previous HDXPRT 4 builds will be comparable to those from the new build.
We’ll let the community know as soon as the new build is available, and we’ll update the HDXPRT 4 User Manual to reflect the changes.
If you have any questions about the upcoming HDXPRT 4 build, please let us know!
We released the second AIXPRT Community Preview (CP2) about two weeks ago. The main additions in CP2 were the ability to run certain test configurations in Windows (OpenVINO CPU/GPU and TensorFlow CPU), the option to download the installer package from the AIXPRT tab in the XPRT Members’ Area, and a demo mode.
We’re also investigating ways to support TensorFlow GPU and TensorFlow-TensorRT testing in Windows, and we’d like to eventually add support for TensorRT testing in Ubuntu and Windows. If development and pre-release testing go as planned, we may roll out some of these extra features by the end of June. However, it’s possible that getting all the pieces that we want in place will require a multi-step release process. If so, we’re considering two approaches: (1) issuing a third community preview (CP3) and (2) preparing a general availability (GA) release, to which we would add features over the months following the release. Neither of these paths is likely to affect test results from the currently supported configurations.
Would you like to work with another community preview, or would it be better for us to move straight to a GA release and add features as they become ready? We want to follow the approach that the majority of community members prefer, so please let us know what you think. As always, we also welcome any questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding the AIXPRT development process.