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Category: Windows

AIXPRT is here!

We’re happy to announce that AIXPRT is now available to the public! AIXPRT includes support for the Intel OpenVINO, TensorFlow, and NVIDIA TensorRT toolkits to run image-classification and object-detection workloads with the ResNet-50 and SSD-MobileNet v1networks, as well as a Wide and Deep recommender system workload with the Apache MXNet toolkit. The test reports FP32, FP16, and INT8 levels of precision.

To access AIXPRT, visit the AIXPRT download page. There, a download table displays the AIXPRT 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 package’s Readme link. If you’re not sure which AIXPRT package to choose, the AIXPRT package selector tool will help to guide you through the selection process.

In addition, the Helpful Info box on AIXPRT.com contains links to a repository of AIXPRT resources, as well links to XPRT blog discussions about key AIXPRT test configuration settings such as batch size and precision.

We hope AIXPRT will prove to be a valuable tool for you, and we’re thankful for all the input we received during the preview period! If you have any questions about AIXPRT, please let us know.

A necessary update for HDXPRT 4

If you tried to install HDXPRT 4 over the past few days, you likely noticed that Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018, the version the Edit Photos scenario uses, is no longer available on the Adobe Photoshop Elements download page. In the past, Adobe has provided access to multiple older versions of their software for some time after a new release, but they appear to be moving away from that practice. We have not yet found an alternative way for users to download PSE 2018 on a trial basis. Unfortunately, this means testers will be temporarily unable to successfully complete the HDXPRT 4 installation process.

We’re adapting the scripts in the HDXPRT 4 Edit Photos scenario to use PSE 2020. As soon as we finish, we’ll start testing, with a focus on determining whether the change significantly affects the individual workload or overall scores.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this issue causes for HDXPRT testers. We’ll continue to update the community here in the blog about our progress with the new build. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

Justin

An update on AIXPRT development

It’s been a while since we last discussed the AIXPRT Community Preview 3 (CP3) release schedule, so we want to let everyone know where things stand. Testing for CP3 has taken longer than we predicted, but we believe we’re nearly ready for the release.

Testers can expect three significant changes in AIXPRT CP3. First, we updated support for the Ubuntu test packages. During the initial development phase of AIXPRT, Ubuntu version 16.04 LTS (Long Term Support) was the most current LTS version, but version 18.04 is now available.

Second, we have 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.

Third, we have added the Wide and Deep recommender system workload with the MXNet toolkit. Recommender systems are AI-based information-filtering tools that learn from end user input and behavior patterns and try to present them with optimized outputs that suit their needs and preferences. If you’ve used Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon accounts, you’ve encountered recommender systems that learn from your behavior.

Currently, the recommender system workload in AIXPRT CP3 is available for Ubuntu testing, but not for Windows. Recommender system inference workloads typically run on datacenter hardware, which tends to be Linux based. If enough community members are interested in running the MXNet/Wide and Deep test package on Windows, we can investigate what that would entail. If you’d like to see that option, please let us know.

As always, if you have any questions about the AIXPRT development process, feel free to ask!

Justin

An updated HDXPRT 4 v1.1 installer package

Today, we published an updated HDXPRT 4 v1.1 installer package that addresses an issue brought to light by HDXPRT testers and our own follow-up testing. We’ve also encountered an issue caused by anti-virus program interference during the HDXPRT installation process, so we’re providing steps for a workaround below. Neither the updated build nor the workaround steps affect the comparability of previous HDXPRT 4 test scores.

The first issue involves the hdxprt4.exe setup file. You may recall that the main updates in HDXPRT 4 v1.1 were the inclusion of the latest version of HandBrake and the ability for testers to choose whether to target a system’s discrete graphics card during the Convert Videos workload. Prior to today’s update, the HDXPRT 4 v1.1 installation package mistakenly included an old hdxprt4.exe setup file, which likely caused problems for testers attempting to target discrete graphics. We apologize for this oversight. The installer package we published today includes the correct hdxprt4.exe setup file.

The second issue is that during the installation process, Windows Security and other anti-virus programs may quarantine some of the AutoIt executables that HDXPRT 4 uses to install real-world applications, and the incomplete installation process will cause the test to fail. The files do not contain viruses, but the anti-virus programs may assume that the user has not granted HDXPRT permission to install the ancillary files. One of the executables currently triggering this behavior is the MediaEspresso ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe file. To check whether your test system is quarantining this file, navigate to the C:\Program Files (x86)\HDXPRT4\HDXPRT4_Workloads\HDXPRT4_Tests folder. Once the installation process is complete, the folder should contain 32 files, including ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe. If you see all 32 files, you’re ready to test. (Note: Once you run the test, HDXPRT 4 will add HDXPRTRunLog.txt to the folder, so you might see 33 files.)

If you see only 31 files, ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe is likely missing. To restore it, use the following steps:

1. Open the Windows Security app.
2. Select Virus & threat protection.
3. Under Current threats, select Protection history.
4. Check to see if Windows Security removed any threats around the time you installed HDXPRT 4.
5. If so, click the drop-down menu on the right side, where Windows Security lists the severity of the threat, and look for a false positive that reports the ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe file as Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml.
6. Click the Actions drop-down menu, and select Restore.
7. Navigate to the C:\Program Files (x86)\HDXPRT4\HDXPRT4_Workloads\HDXPRT4_Tests folder, and check to see where the ME75_2x4K_transcode.exe file is present.

Windows Security and other anti-virus programs may quarantine other HDXPRT installation files in the future. If your first HDXPRT 4 run fails to complete successfully, we suggest checking the anti-virus quarantine for HDXPRT-related files.

We also updated the HDXPRT 4 User Manual to include the steps above. If you have any questions about any of these topics, please feel free to contact us.

Justin

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

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