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Category: BenchmarkXPRT

Looking back on 2021 with the XPRTs

As 2022 gets underway, we want to take this opportunity to look back on 2021 and review another productive year for the XPRTs. Readers of our newsletter are familiar with the stats and updates we include each month, but for our blog readers who don’t receive the newsletter, we’ve compiled some highlights below.

Benchmarks
In the past year, we released the WebXPRT 4 Preview, CloudXPRT v1.1, and an updated CrXPRT 2 build that included a fix for prior issues with the battery life test.

XPRTs in the media
Journalists, advertisers, and analysts referenced the XPRTs thousands of times in 2021. It’s always rewarding to know that the XPRTs have proven to be useful and reliable assessment tools for technology publications such as AnandTech, Expert Reviews, Gadgets 360, Gizmodo, Hot Hardware, Laptop Mag, Legit Reviews, Notebookcheck, PCMag, PCWorld, TechPowerUp, Tom’s Hardware, and ZDNet.

Downloads and confirmed runs
In 2021, we had more than 23,600 benchmark downloads and 228,900 confirmed runs. Our most popular benchmark, WebXPRT, just passed 909,800 runs since its debut in 2013! WebXPRT continues to be a go-to, industry-standard performance benchmark for OEM labs, vendors, and leading tech press outlets around the globe.

Media, publications, and interactive tools
Part of our mission with the XPRTs is to produce tools and materials that help testers better understand the ins and outs of benchmarking in general and the XPRTs in particular. To help achieve this goal, we published the following in 2021:

We’re thankful for everyone who has used the XPRTs, joined the community, and sent questions and suggestions throughout 2021. We look forward to an exciting 2022!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 Preview is here!

We’re excited to announce that the WebXPRT 4 Preview is now available! Testers can access the Preview at www.WebXPRT4.com or through a link on WebXPRT.com. The Preview is available to everyone, and testers can now publish scores from Preview build testing. We may still tweak a few things, but will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI and features we do not expect to affect test scores.

Longtime WebXPRT users will notice that the WebXPRT 4 Preview has a new, but familiar, UI. The general process for kicking off both manual and automated tests is the same as with WebXPRT 3, so the transition from WebXPRT 3 to WebXPRT 4 testing should be straightforward. We encourage everyone to visit the XPRT blog for more details about what’s new in this Preview release.

In addition, keep your eye on the blog for more details about the all-new WebXPRT 4 results viewer, which we expect to publish in the very near future. We think WebXPRT testers will enjoy using the viewer to explore our WebXPRT 4 test data!

After you try the WebXPRT 4 Preview, please send us your comments. Thanks and happy testing!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 Preview is almost here

Last week, we provided readers with an overview of what to expect in the WebXPRT 4 Preview, as well as an update on the Preview’s release schedule. Since then, we’ve been working on UI adjustments and bug fixes, additional technical tweaks, and follow-up testing. We’re very close, but won’t be able to meet our original goal of publishing the Preview today. We believe it will be ready for release early next week.

As a reminder, once we release the WebXPRT 4 Preview, testers will be able to publish scores from Preview build testing. We will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI or to features we do not expect to affect test scores.

If you have any questions about WebXPRT 4 or the Preview build, please let us know!

Justin

Here’s what to expect in the WebXPRT 4 Preview

A few months ago, we shared detailed information about the changes we expected to make in WebXPRT 4. We are currently doing internal testing of the WebXPRT 4 Preview build in preparation for releasing it to the public. We want to let our readers know what to expect.

We’ve made some changes since our last update and some of the details we present below could still change before the preview release. However, we are much closer to the final product. Once we release the WebXPRT 4 Preview, testers will be able to publish scores from Preview build testing. We will limit any changes that we make between the Preview and the final release to the UI or features that are not expected to affect test scores.

General changes

Some of the non-workload changes we’ve made in WebXPRT 4 relate to our typical benchmark update process.

  • We have updated the aesthetics of the WebXPRT UI to make WebXPRT 4 visually distinct from older versions. We did not significantly change the flow of the UI.
  • We have updated content in some of the workloads to reflect changes in everyday technology, such as upgrading most of the photos in the photo processing workloads to higher resolutions.
  • We have not yet added a looping function to the automation scripts, but are still considering it for the future.
  • We investigated the possibility of shortening the benchmark by reducing the default number of iterations from seven to five, but have decided to stick with seven iterations to ensure that score variability remains acceptable across all platforms.

Workload changes

  • Photo Enhancement. We increased the efficiency of the workload’s Canvas object creation function, and replaced the existing photos with new, higher-resolution photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI. We replaced ConvNetJS with WebAssembly (WASM) based OpenCV.js for both the face detection and image classification tasks. We changed the images for the image classification tasks to images from the ImageNet dataset.
  • Stock Option Pricing. We updated the dygraph.js library.
  • Sales Graphs. We made no changes to this workload.
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan. We replaced ASM.js with WASM for the Notes task and updated the WASM-based Tesseract version for the OCR task.
  • Online Homework. In addition to the existing scenario which uses four Web Workers, we have added a scenario with two Web Workers. The workload now covers a wider range of Web Worker performance, and we calculate the score by using the combined run time of both scenarios. We also updated the typo.js library.

Experimental workloads

As part of the WebXPRT 4 development process, we researched the possibility of including two new workloads: a natural language processing (NLP) workload, and an Angular-based message scrolling workload. After much testing and discussion, we have decided to not include these two workloads in WebXPRT 4. They will be good candidates for us to add as experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads in 2022.

The release timeline

Our goal is to publish the WebXPRT 4 preview build by December 15th, which will allow testers to publish scores in the weeks leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2022. We will provide more detailed information about the GA timeline here in the blog as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about the details we’ve shared above, please feel free to ask!

Justin

A potential fix for the CrXPRT 2 battery life test error

For the past few months, we’ve been recommending that CrXPRT 2 testers not use the battery life test until we find a solution to a recurring error on Chrome v89.x and later. The error prevents the test from completing and producing a battery life estimate. Sometimes, the CrXPRT battery life test stops running after only a few workload iterations, while at other times, it almost reaches completion before producing the error.

We are cautiously optimistic that we’ve identified both the problem and a potential fix. We believe the problem stems from fluctuations in the time it takes the benchmark to communicate with Chrome to collect and store battery life information. While we haven’t identified the root cause of the fluctuations, adjusting the CrXPRT code to make it less sensitive to the fluctuations appears to be an effective fix. We have incorporated those adjustments into an updated, unpublished version of the app package, and we can now complete CrXPRT 2 battery life tests on Chrome v89.x and later with no failures.

We are calling this a potential fix because we’re still testing across several different Chromebook models to ensure consistency. In some testing, the variance in estimated battery life results has been a little higher than we like, so we’re taking time to determine whether that variance is present across all systems or on only specific hardware.

We’d like to apologize once again for the inconvenience that this error is causing CrXPRT 2 testers. As soon as we better understand the viability of the current fix as a long-term update, we’ll let you know!

Justin

Testing XPRT compatibility with Windows 11

Last week, Microsoft announced that the Windows 11 GA build will officially launch Tuesday October 5, earlier than the initial late 2021 estimate. The update will start rolling out with select new laptops and existing Windows 10 PCs that satisfy specific system requirements, and only some Windows 10 PCs will be eligible for the update right away. Through a phased Windows Update process, additional Windows 10 PCs will be able to access the update throughout the first half of 2022.

Between the phased Windows 11 rollout and the pledge Microsoft has made to continue Windows 10 support through October 2025, it will likely be a while before the majority of Windows users transition to the new version. We hope the transition period will go smoothly for the XPRTs. However, because we designed three of our benchmarks to run on Windows 10 (HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT), we might encounter compatibility issues with Windows 11.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be testing HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT on beta versions of Windows 11, and we’ll test again after the GA launch. In addition to obvious compatibility issues and test failures, we’ll note any changes we need to make to our documentation to account for differences in the Windows 11 installation or test processes.

We hope that testers will be able to successfully use all three benchmarks on both OS versions throughout the transition process. If problems arise, we will keep our blog readers informed while exploring solutions. As always, we’re also open to feedback from the community, so if you are participating in the Windows Insider Program and have encountered Windows 11 beta compatibility issues with any of the Windows-focused XPRTs, please let us know!

Justin

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