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Category: What makes a good benchmark?

Making AIXPRT easier to use

We’re glad to see so much interest in the AIXPRT CP2 build. Over the past few days, we’ve received two questions about the setup process: 1) where to find instructions for setting up AIXPRT on Windows, and 2) whether we could make it easier to install Intel OpenVINO on test systems.

In response to the first question, testers can find the relevant instructions for each framework in the readme files included in the AIXPRT install package. Instructions for Windows installation are in section 3 of the OpenVINO and TensorFlow readmes. Please note that whether you’re running AIXPRT on Ubuntu or Windows, be sure to read the “Known Issues” section in the readme, as there may be issues relevant to your specific configuration.

The readme files for each respective framework in the CP2 package are located here:

  • AIXPRT_0.5_CP2\AIXPRT_OpenVINO_0.5_CP2.zip\AIXPRT\Modules\Deep-Learning
  • AIXPRT_0.5_CP2\AIXPRT_TensorFLow_0.5_CP2.zip\AIXPRT\Modules\Deep-Learning
  • AIXPRT_0.5_CP2\AIXPRT_TensorFlow_TensorRT_0.5_CP2.zip\AIXPRT\Modules\Deep-Learning


We’re also working on consolidating the instructions into a central document that will make it easier for everyone to find the instructions they need.

In response to the question about OpenVINO installation, we’re working on an AIXPRT CP2 package that includes a precompiled version of OpenVINO R5.0.1 for easy installation on Windows via a few quick commands, and a script that installs the necessary OpenVINO dependencies. We’re currently testing the build, and we’ll make it available to testers as soon as possible.

The tests themselves will not change, so the new build will not influence existing results from Ubuntu or Windows. We hope it will simply facilitate the setup and testing process for many users.

We appreciate each bit of feedback that we receive, so if you have any suggestions for AIXPRT, 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

Transparent goals

Recently, Forbes published an article discussing a new report on phone battery life from Which?, a UK consumer advocacy group. In the report, Which? states that they tested the talk time battery life of 50 phones from five brands. During the tests, phones from three of the brands lasted longer than the manufacturers’ claims, while phones from another brand underperformed by about five percent. The fifth brand’s published battery life numbers were 18 to 51 percent higher than Which? recorded in their tests.

Folks can read the article for more details about the tests and the brands. While the report raises some interesting questions, and the article provides readers with brief test methodology descriptions from Which? and one manufacturer, we don’t know enough about the tests to say which set of claims is correct. Any number of variables related to test workloads or device configuration settings could significantly affect the results. Both parties may be using sound benchmarking principles in good faith, but their test methodologies may not be comparable. As it is, we simply don’t have enough information to evaluate the study.

Whether the issue is battery life or any other important device spec, information conflicts, such as the one that the Forbes article highlights, can leave consumers scratching their heads, trying to decide which sources are worth listening to. At the XPRTs, we believe that the best remedy for this type of problem is to provide complete transparency into our testing methodologies and development process. That’s why our lab techs verify all the hardware specs for each XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight entry. It’s why we publish white papers explaining the structure of our benchmarks in detail, as well as how the XPRTs calculate performance results. It’s also why we employ an open development community model and make each XPRT’s source code available to community members. When we’re open about how we do things, it encourages the kind of honest dialogue between vendors, journalists, consumers, and community members that serves everyone’s best interests.

If you love tech and share that same commitment to transparency, we’d love for you to join our community, where you can access XPRT source code and previews of upcoming benchmarks. Membership is free for anyone with a verifiable corporate affiliation. If you have any questions about membership or the registration process, please feel free to ask.

Justin

BatteryXPRT provides the objective battery life data that shoppers need

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the capabilities and benefits of TouchXPRT and CrXPRT. This week, we’d like to reintroduce readers to BatteryXPRT, our app that evaluates the battery life and performance of Android devices.

Battery life for phones and tablets has improved dramatically over the last several years, to the point where many devices can support continuous use for well over a full work day on a single charge. This improvement is the result of advances in battery hardware technology, increased processor efficiency, and smarter utilization of software services by the operating system. Battery life has increased to some extent for most device categories and price points. However, enough of a range remains between devices at each level that access to objective battery life data is valuable for device shoppers.

Without BatteryXPRT, shoppers must rely on manufacturer estimates or full rundown tests that don’t resemble the types of things we do with our phones and tablets every day. A rundown test that surfs the web continuously for over 15 hours reveals which devices last the longest performing that specific task. It doesn’t tell you which devices last the longest over a full day performing a variety of common activities such as web browsing, watching videos, browsing and editing photos, playing music, and periodically sleeping. During BatteryXPRT’s battery life test, the app executes those same types of tasks and produces a performance score based on the speed with which a device completes each task.

BatteryXPRT provides an intuitive user interface in English and Simplified Chinese, and easy-to-understand results for both battery life and performance. Because your data connection can have a significant effect on battery life, BatteryXPRT runs in airplane mode, connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, or connected to the Internet through a cellular data connection.

BatteryXPRT is easy to install and run, and is a great resource for anyone who wants to evaluate how well an Android device will meet their needs. If you’d like to see test results from a variety of Android devices, go to BatteryXPRT.com and click View Results, where you’ll find scores from many different Android devices.

If you’d like to run BatteryXPRT

Simply download BatteryXPRT from the Google Play store or BatteryXPRT.com. The BatteryXPRT installation instructions and user manual provide step-by-step instructions for configuring your device and kicking off a test. We designed BatteryXPRT to be compatible with a wide variety of Android devices, but because there are so many devices on the market, it is inevitable that users occasionally run into problems. In the Tips, tricks, and known issues document, we provide troubleshooting suggestions for issues we encountered during development testing.

If you’d like to learn more

The Exploring BatteryXPRT 2014 for Android white paper covers almost every aspect of the benchmark. In it, we explain the guiding concepts behind BatteryXPRT’s development, as well as the benchmark’s structure. We describe the component tests, the differences between the app’s Airplane and Network/Wi-Fi modes, and the statistical processes used to calculate expected battery life.

Justin

CrXPRT is more valuable than ever

Digital Trends recently published an article discussing various rumors about the future of the Google Pixelbook line. Pixelbooks were some of the first Chromebooks with high-end hardware specs, and they were priced accordingly. Whether or not the rumors discussed in the article turn out to be true, the author points out that the Pixelbook prompted several other vendors, such as HP and Lenovo, to take a chance on high-end Chromebooks. It seems like high-end Chromebooks are here to stay, but given the unique constraints of the Chrome OS environment, buyers are often unsure if it’s worth it to shell out the extra money for a premium model.

We developed CrXPRT to help buyers answer these questions. CrXPRT is a benchmark tool that measures the battery life of your Chromebook as well as how fast it handles everyday tasks like playing video games, watching movies, editing pictures, and doing homework. The performance test gives you individual workload scores and an overall score based on the speed of the device. The battery life test produces an estimated battery life time, a separate performance score, and a frames-per-second (FPS) rate for a built-in HTML5 gaming component.

You don’t have to be a tech journalist or even a techie to use CrXPRT. To learn more, check out the links below.

Testing the performance or battery life of your Chromebook

Simply download CrXPRT from the Chrome Web Store. Installation is quick and easy, and the CrXPRT 2015 user manual provides step-by-step instructions. A typical performance test takes about 15 minutes, and a battery life test will take 3.5 hours once the system is charged and configured for testing. If you’d like to see how your score compares to other Chromebooks, visit the CrXPRT results page.

Want to know more?

Read the Exploring CrXPRT 2015 white paper, where we discuss the concepts behind CrXPRT, its development process, and the app’s structure. We also describe the component tests and explain the statistical processes used to calculate expected battery life.

BenchmarkXPRT Development Community members also have access to the CrXPRT source code, so if you’re interested, join today! There’s no obligation and membership is free for members of any company or organization with an interest in benchmarks.

Give CrXPRT a try and let us know what you think!

Justin

The AIXPRT Request for Comments preview build

In the next few days, we’ll be publishing the first AIXPRT tool as a Request for Comments (RFC) preview build, an early version of one of the AIXPRT tools we’re developing to help evaluate machine learning performance.

We’re inviting folks to run the workload and send in their thoughts and suggestions. Only BenchmarkXPRT Development Community members have access to our RFCs and the opportunity to provide feedback. However, because we’re seeking broad input from experts in this field, we’ll gladly make anyone interested in participating a member.

This AIXPRT RFC preview build includes support for the Intel OpenVINO computer vision toolkit to run image classification workloads with ResNet-50 and SSD-MobileNet v1 networks. The test reports FP32 and FP16 levels of precision. The system requirements are:

  • Operating system = Ubuntu 16.04
  • CPU = 6th to 8th generation Intel Core or Xeon processors, or Intel Pentium processors N4200/5, N3350/5, N3450/5 with Intel HD Graphics


We welcome input on all aspects of the benchmark, including scope, workloads, metrics and scores, user experience, and reporting. We will add support for TensorFlow and TensorRT to the AIXPRT RFC preview build during the preview period. We are accepting feedback through January 25th, 2019, after which we’ll collect and evaluate responses before publishing the next build. Because this is an RFC release, we ask that testers do not publish scores or use the results for comparison purposes.

We’ll send out a community announcement when the RFC preview build is officially available, and we’ll also post an announcement and RFC preview build user guide on AIXPRT.com. We’re hosting the AIXPRT RFC preview build in a dedicated GitHub repository, so please contact us at BenchmarkXPRTsupport@principledtechnologies.com to gain access.

This is just the next step for AIXPRT. With your help, we hope to add more workloads and other frameworks in the coming months. We look forward to receiving your feedback!

Bill

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