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Category: Future of performance evaluation

Planning for the next TouchXPRT

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.

Justin

WebXPRT: What would you like to see?

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!

Justin

An updated HDXPRT 4 build is on the way

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!

Justin

We want to hear your thoughts about the AIXPRT development schedule

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.

Justin

An update on AIXPRT development

It’s been almost two months since the AIXPRT Community Preview went live, and we want to provide folks with a quick update. Community Preview periods for the XPRTs generally last about a month. Because of the complexity of AIXPRT and some of the feedback we’ve received, we plan to release a second AIXPRT Community Preview (CP2) later this month.

One of the biggest additions in CP2 will be the ability to run AIXPRT on Windows. AIXPRT currently requires test systems to run Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. This is fine for testers accustomed to Linux environments, but presents obstacles for those who want to test in a traditional Windows environment. We will not be changing the tests themselves, so this update will not influence existing results from Ubuntu. We plan to make CP2 available for download from the BenchmarkXPRT website for people who don’t wish to deal with GitHub.

Also, after speaking with testers and learning more about the kinds of data points people are looking for in AIXPRT results, we’ve decided to make significant adjustments to the AIXPRT results viewer. To make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for, we’ll add filters for key categories such as batch size, toolkit, and latency percentile (e.g., 50th, 90th, 99th), among others. We’ll also allow users to set desired ranges for metrics such as throughput and latency.

Finally, we’re adding a demo mode that displays some images and other information on the screen while a test is running to give users a better idea what is happening. While we haven’t seen results change while running in demo mode, users should not publish demo results or use them for comparison.

We hope to release CP2 in the second half of May and a GA version in mid-June. However, this project has more uncertainties than we usually encounter with the XPRTs, so that timeline could easily change.

We’ll continue to keep everyone up to date with AIXPRT news here in the blog. As always, we appreciate your suggestions. If you have any questions or comments about AIXPRT, please let us know.

Bill

More, faster, better: The future according to Mobile World Congress 2019

More is more data, which the trillions of devices in the coming Internet of Things will be pumping through our air into our (computing) clouds in hitherto unseen quantities.

Faster is the speed at which tomorrow’s 5G networks will carry this data—and the responses and actions from our automated assistants (and possibly overlords).

Better is the quality of the data analysis and recommendations, thanks primarily to the vast army of AI-powered analytics engines that will be poring over everything digital the planet has to say.

Swimming through this perpetual data tsunami will be we humans and our many devices, our laptops and tablets and smartphones and smart watches and, ultimately, implants. If we are to believe the promise of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—and of course I do want to believe it, who wouldn’t?—the result of all of this will be a better world for all humanity, no person left behind. As I walked the show floor, I could not help but feel and want to embrace its optimism.

The catch, of course, is that we have a tremendous amount of work to do between where we are today and this fabulous future.

We must, for example, make sure that every computing node that will contribute to these powerful AI programs is up to the task. From the smartphone to the datacenter, AI will end up being a very distributed and very demanding workload. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been developing AIXPRT. Without tools that let us accurately compare different devices, the industry won’t be able to keep delivering the levels of performance improvements that we need to realize these dreams.

We must also think a lot about how to accurately measure all other aspects of our devices’ performance, because the demands this future will place on them are going to be significant. Fortunately, the always evolving XPRT family of tools is up to the task.

The coming 5G revolution, like all tech leaps forward before it, will not come evenly. Different 5G devices will end up behaving differently, some better and some worse. That fact, plus our constant and growing reliance on bandwidth, suggests that maybe the XPRT community should turn its attention to the task of measuring bandwidth. What do you think?

One thing is certain: we at the Benchmark XPRT Development Community have a role to play in building the tools necessary to test the tech the world will need to deliver on the promise of this exciting trade show. We look forward to that work.

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