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Category: Cross-platform benchmarks

A clearer picture of WebXPRT 4

The WebXPRT 4 development process is far enough along that we’d like to share more about changes we are likely to make and a rough target date for publishing a preview build. While some of the details below will probably change, this post should give readers a good sense of what to expect.

General changes

Some of the non-workload changes in WebXPRT 4 relate to our typical benchmark update process, and a few result directly from feedback we received from the WebXPRT tech press survey.

  • We will update the aesthetics of the WebXPRT UI to make WebXPRT 4 visually distinct from older versions. We do not anticipate significantly changing the flow of the UI.
  • We will update content in some of the workloads to reflect changes in everyday technology. For instance, we will upgrade most of the photos in the photo processing workloads to higher resolutions.
  • In response to a request from tech press survey respondents, we are considering adding a looping function to the automation scripts.
  • We are investigating the possibility of shortening the benchmark by reducing the default number of iterations from seven to five. We will only make this change if we can ensure that five iterations produce consistently low score variance.

Changes to existing workloads

  • Photo Enhancement. This workload applies three effects to two photos each (six photos total). It tests HTML5 Canvas, Canvas 2D, and JavaScript performance. The only change we are considering is adding higher-resolution photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI. This workload currently uses the ConvNetJS neural network library to complete two tasks: (1) organizing five images and (2) classifying the five images in an album. We are planning to replace ConvNetJS with WebAssembly (WASM) for both tasks and are considering upgrading the images to higher resolutions.
  • Stock Option Pricing. This workload calculates and displays graphic views of a stock portfolio using Canvas, SVG, and dygraph.js. The only change we are considering is combining it with the Sales Graphs workload (below).
  • Sales Graphs. This workload provides a web-based application displaying multiple views of sales data. Sales Graphs exercises HTML5 Canvas and SVG performance. The only change we are considering is combining it with the Stock Option Pricing workload (above).
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan. This workload uses ASM.js to sync notes, extract text from a scanned receipt using optical character recognition (OCR), and add the scanned text to a spending report. We are planning to replace ASM.js with WASM for the Notes task and with WASM-based Tesseract for the OCR task.
  • Online Homework. This workload uses regex, arrays, strings, and Web Workers to review DNA and spell-check an essay. We are not planning to change this workload.

Possible new workloads

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP). We are considering the addition of an NLP workload using ONNX Runtime and/or TensorFlowJS. The workload would use Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) to answer questions about a given text. Similar use cases are becoming more prevalent in conversational bot systems, domain-specific document search tools, and various other educational applications.
  • Message Scrolling. We are considering developing a new workload that would use an Angular or React.js to scroll through hundreds of messages. We’ll share more about this possible workload as we firm up the details.

The release timeline

We hope to publish a WebXPRT 4 preview build in the second half of November, with a general release before the end of the year. If it looks as though that timeline will change significantly, we’ll provide an update here in the blog as soon as possible.

We’re very grateful for all the input we received during the WebXPRT 4 planning process. If you have any questions about the details we’ve shared above, please feel free to ask!

Justin

Improving WebXPRT-related tools and resources

As we move forward with the WebXPRT 4 development process, we’re also working on ways to enhance the value of WebXPRT beyond simply updating the benchmark. Our primary goal is to expand and improve the WebXPRT-related tools and resources we offer at WebXPRT.com, starting with a new results viewer.

Currently, users can view WebXPRT results on our site two primary ways, each of which has advantages and limitations.

The first way is the WebXPRT results viewer, which includes hundreds of PT-curated performance scores from a wide range of trusted sources and devices. Users can sort entries by device type, device name, device model, overall score, date of publication, and source. The viewer also includes a free-form filter for quick, targeted searches. While the results viewer contains a wealth of information, it does not give users a way to use graphs or charts for viewing and comparing multiple results at once. Another limitation of the current results viewer is that it offers no easy way for users to access the additional data about the test device and the subtest scores that we have for many entries.

The second way to view WebXPRT results on our site is the WebXPRT Processor Comparison Chart. The chart uses horizontal bar graphs to compare test scores from the hundreds of published results in our database, grouped by processor type. Users can click the average score for a processor to view all the WebXPRT results we currently have for that processor. The visual aspect of the chart and its automated “group by processor type” feature are very useful, but it lacks the sorting and filtering capabilities of the viewer, and navigating to the details of individual tests takes multiple clicks.

In the coming months, we’ll be working to combine the best features of the results viewer and the comparison chart into a single powerful WebXPRT results database tool. We’ll also be investigating ways to add new visual aids, navigation controls, and data-handling capabilities to that tool. We want to provide a tool that helps testers and analysts access the wealth of WebXPRT test information in our database in an efficient, productive, and enjoyable way. If you have ideas or comments about what you’d like to see in a new WebXPRT results viewing tool, please let us know!

Justin

We welcome your CloudXPRT results!

We recently published a set of CloudXPRT Data Analytics and Web Microservices workload test results submitted by Quanta Computer, Inc. The Quanta submission is the first set of CloudXPRT results that we’ve published using the formal results submission and approval process. We’re grateful to the Quanta team for carefully following the submission guidelines, enabling us to complete the review process without a hitch.

If you are unfamiliar with the process, you can find general information about how we review submissions in a previous blog post. Detailed, step-by-step instructions are available on the results submission page. As a reminder for testers who are considering submitting results for July, the submission deadline is tomorrow, Friday July 16, and the publication date is Friday July 30. We list the submission and publication dates for the rest of 2021 below. Please note that we do not plan to review submissions in December, so if we receive results submissions after November 30, we may not publish them until the end of January 2022.

August

Submission deadline: Tuesday 8/17/21

Publication date: Tuesday 8/31/21

September

Submission deadline: Thursday 9/16/21

Publication date: Thursday 9/30/21

October

Submission deadline: Friday 10/15/21

Publication date: Friday 10/29/21

November

Submission deadline: Tuesday 11/16/21

Publication date: Tuesday 11/30/21

December

Submission deadline: N/A

Publication date: N/A

If you have any questions about the CloudXPRT results submission, review, or publication process, please let us know!

Justin

How to submit WebXPRT results for publication

It’s been a while since we last discussed the process for submitting WebXPRT results to be considered for publication in the WebXPRT results browser and the WebXPRT Processor Comparison Chart, so we thought we’d offer a refresher.

Unlike sites that publish all results they receive, we hand-select results from internal lab testing, user submissions, and reliable tech media sources. In each case, we evaluate whether the score is consistent with general expectations. For sources outside of our lab, that evaluation includes confirming that there is enough detailed system information to help us determine whether the score makes sense. We do this for every score on the WebXPRT results page and the general XPRT results page. All WebXPRT results we publish automatically appear in the processor comparison chart as well.

Submitting your score is quick and easy. At the end of the WebXPRT test run, click the Submit your results button below the overall score, complete the short submission form, and click Submit again. The screenshot below shows how the form would look if I submitted a score at the end of a WebXPRT 3 run on my personal system.

After you submit your score, we’ll contact you to confirm how we should display the source. You can choose one of the following:

  • Your first and last name
  • “Independent tester” (for those who wish to remain anonymous)
  • Your company’s name, provided that you have permission to submit the result in their name. To use a company name, we ask that you provide a valid company email address.


We will not publish any additional information about you or your company without your permission.

We look forward to seeing your score submissions, and if you have suggestions for the processor chart or any other aspect of the XPRTs, let us know!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 tech press feedback survey

Device reviews in publications such as AnandTech, Notebookcheck, and PCMag, among many others, often feature WebXPRT test results, and we appreciate the many members of the tech press that use WebXPRT. As we move forward with the WebXPRT 4 development process, we’re especially interested in learning what longtime users would like to see in a new version of the benchmark.  

In previous posts, we’ve asked people to weigh in on the potential addition of a WebAssembly workload or a battery life test. We’d also like to ask experienced testers some other test-related questions. To that end, this week we’ll be sending a WebXPRT 4 survey directly to members of the tech press who frequently publish WebXPRT test results.

Regardless of whether you are a member of the tech press, we invite you to participate by sending your answers to any or all the questions below to benchmarkxprtsupport@principledtechnologies.com. We ask you to do so by the end of May.

  • Do you think WebXPRT 3’s selection of workload scenarios is representative of modern web tasks?
  • How do you think WebXPRT compares to other common browser-based benchmarks, such as JetStream, Speedometer, and Octane?
  • Are there web technologies that you’d like us to include in additional workloads?
  • Are you happy with the WebXPRT 3 user interface? If not, what UI changes would you like to see?
  • Are there any aspects of WebXPRT 2015 that we changed in WebXPRT 3 that you’d like to see us change back?
  • Have you ever experienced significant connection issues when testing with WebXPRT?
  • Given the array of workloads, do you think the WebXPRT runtime is reasonable? Would you mind if the average runtime were a bit longer?
  • Are there any other aspects of WebXPRT 3 that you’d like to see us change?

If you’d like to discuss any topics that we did not cover in the questions above, please feel free to include additional comments in your response. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Justin

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

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