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CloudXPRT development news

Last month, Bill announced that we were starting work on a new data center benchmark. CloudXPRT will measure the performance of modern, cloud-first applications deployed on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platformson-premises platforms, externally hosted platforms, and hybrid clouds that use a mix of the two. Our ultimate goal is for CloudXPRT to use cloud-native components on an actual stack to produce end-to-end performance metrics that can help users determine the right IaaS configuration for their business.

Today, we want to provide a quick update on CloudXPRT development and testing.

  • Installation. We’ve completely automated the CloudXPRT installation process, which leverages Kubernetes or Ansible tools depending on the target platform. The installation processes differ slightly for each platform, but testing is the same.
  • Workloads. We’re currently testing potential workloads that focus on three areas: web microservices, data analytics, and container scaling. We might not include all of these workloads in the first release, but we’ll keep the community informed and share more details about each workload as the picture becomes clearer. We are designing the workloads so that testers can use them to directly compare IaaS stacks and evaluate whether any given stack can meet service level agreement (SLA) thresholds.
  • Platforms. We want CloudXPRT to eventually support testing on a variety of popular externally hosted platforms. However, constructing a cross-platform benchmark is complicated and we haven’t yet decided which external platforms the first CloudXPRT release will support. We’ve successfully tested the current build with on-premises IaaS stacks and with one externally hosted platform, Amazon Web Services. Next, we will test the build on Google Cloud Hosting and Microsoft Azure.
  • Timeline. We are on track to meet our target of releasing a CloudXPRT preview build in late March and the first official build about two months later. If anything changes, we’ll post an updated timeline here in the blog.

If you would like to share any thoughts or comments related to CloudXPRT or cloud benchmarking, please feel free to contact us.

Justin

HDXPRT 4: Troubleshooting an issue with the Convert Videos workload

Yesterday, we received a report that an HDXPRT 4 tester encountered an error message during the Convert Videos workload. During the workload, HDXPRT uses HandBrake 1.2.2 and CyberLink MediaEspresso 7.5 to convert multiple videos to formats optimized for mobile phones.

The error message reports that the video files did not load correctly:

We apologize for the inconvenience that this causes for HDXPRT testers. We’re troubleshooting to determine the cause of the issue and will let the community know as soon as we identify a reliable solution. If you have any insight into this issue, or have encountered any other error messages during HDXPRT testing, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

Principled Technologies and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community make the AIXPRT source code available to the public

Durham, NC, February 18 — Principled Technologies and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community release the source code for the AIXPRT benchmark to the public. AIXPRT is a free tool that allows users to evaluate a system’s machine learning inference performance by running common image-classification, object detection, and recommender system workloads.

“Publishing the AIXPRT source code is part of our commitment to making the XPRT development process as transparent as possible,” said Bill Catchings, co-founder of Principled Technologies, which administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community. “By allowing all interested parties to download and review our source code, we’re taking tangible steps to improve openness in the benchmarking industry.”

To access the AIXPRT source code, visit the AIXPRT GitHub repository at https://github.com/BenchmarkXPRT/AIXPRT.

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 v1 networks, as well as the MXNet™ toolkit with a Wide and Deep recommender system workload. The test reports FP32, FP16, and INT8 levels of precision.

To access AIXPRT, visit www.AIXPRT.com.

AIXPRT is part of the BenchmarkXPRT suite of performance evaluation tools, which includes WebXPRT, CrXPRT, MobileXPRT, TouchXPRT, and HDXPRT. The XPRTs help users get the facts before they buy, use, or evaluate tech products such as computers, tablets, and phones.

To learn more about the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, go to www.BenchmarkXPRT.com or contact a BenchmarkXPRT Development Community representative directly by sending a message to BenchmarkXPRTsupport@PrincipledTechnologies.com.

About Principled Technologies, Inc.
Principled Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of technology marketing, as well as learning and development services. It administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is located in Durham, North Carolina, USA. For more information, please visit www.PrincipledTechnologies.com.

Company Contact
Justin Greene
BenchmarkXPRT Development Community
Principled Technologies, Inc.
1007 Slater Road, Ste. 300
Durham, NC 27704
BenchmarkXPRTsupport@PrincipledTechnologies.com

The AIXPRT source code is now public

This week, we have good news for AIXPRT testers: the AIXPRT source code is now available to the public via GitHub. As we’ve discussed in the past, publishing XPRT source code is part of our commitment to making the XPRT development process as transparent as possible. With other XPRT benchmarks, we’ve only made the source code available to community members. With AIXPRT, we have released the source code more widely. By allowing all interested parties, not just community members, to download and review our source code, we’re taking tangible steps to improve openness and honesty in the benchmarking industry and we’re encouraging the kind of constructive feedback that helps to ensure that the XPRTs continue to contribute to a level playing field.

Traditional open-source models encourage developers to change products and even take them in new and different directions. Because benchmarking requires a product that remains static to enable valid comparisons over time, we allow people to download the source code and submit potential workloads for future consideration, but we reserve the right to control derivative works. This discourages a situation where someone publishes an unauthorized version of the benchmark and calls it an “XPRT.”

We encourage you to download and review the source and send us any feedback you may have. Your questions and suggestions may influence future versions of AIXPRT. If you have any questions about AIXPRT or accessing the source code, please feel free to ask! Please also let us know if you think we should take this approach to releasing the source code with other XPRT benchmarks.

Justin

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers

Microsoft recently released a new Chromium-based version of the Edge browser, and several tech press outlets have released reviews and results from head-to-head browser performance comparison tests. Because WebXPRT is a go-to benchmark for evaluating browser performance, PCMag, PCWorld, and VentureBeat, among others, used WebXPRT 3 scores as part of the evaluation criteria for their reviews.

We thought we would try a quick experiment of our own, so we grabbed a recent laptop from our Spotlight testbed: a Dell XPS 13 7930 running Windows 10 Home 1909 (18363.628) with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM. We tested on a clean system image after installing all current Windows updates, and after the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 3 three times on six browsers: a new browser called Brave, Google Chrome, the legacy version of Microsoft Edge, the new version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. The posted score for each browser is the median of the three test runs.

As you can see in the chart below, five of the browsers (legacy Edge, Brave, Opera, Chrome, and new Edge) produced scores that were nearly identical. Mozilla Firefox was the only browser that produced a significantly different score. The parity among Brave, Chrome, Opera, and the new Edge is not that surprising, considering they are all Chromium-based browsers. The rank order and relative scaling of these results is similar to the results published by the tech outlets mentioned above.

Do these results mean that Mozilla Firefox will provide you with a speedier web experience? Generally, a device with a higher WebXPRT score is probably going to feel faster to you during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends in part on the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately the browsers’ default installation settings reflect how you would set up the same browsers for your daily workflow.

In addition, browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 10 and Chrome on Chrome OS. All of these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how browser performance comparison results translate to your everyday experience. In such a competitive market, and with so many variables to consider, we’re happy that WebXPRT can help consumers by providing reliable, objective results.

What are your thoughts on today’s competitive browser market? We’d love to hear from you.

Justin

A preview of the new CrXPRT 2 UI

As we get closer to the CrXPRT 2 Community Preview (CP), we want to provide readers with a glimpse of the new CrXPRT 2 UI. In line with the functional and aesthetic themes we used for the latest versions of WebXPRT, MobileXPRT, and HDXPRT, we’re implementing a clean, bright look with a focus on intuitive navigation. The screenshots below show how we’ve used that approach to rework the home, battery life test, performance test, and battery life test results screens. (We’re still tweaking the UI, so the screens you see in the CP may differ slightly.)

On the home screen, we kept the performance test and battery life test buttons, but made it clearer that you can choose only one. We also added a link to the user manual to the bottom ribbon for quick access.

If you choose to run a battery life test and click Next, the screen below appears. The CrXPRT 2 battery life test requires a full rundown, so you’ll need charge your device to 100 percent before you can start the test. Once you’ve done that, enter a name for the test run, unplug the system, and click Start. (Note that you no longer need to enter values for screen brightness and audio levels.)

The CrXPRT 2 performance test includes updated versions of six of the seven workloads in CrXPRT 2015. (As we discussed in a previous blog post, newer versions of Chrome can’t run the Photo Collage workload without a workaround, so we removed it from CrXPRT 2.)  To run the performance test, enter a name for the test run, customize the workloads if you wish, and click Start.

For the results screens, we wanted to highlight the most important end-of-test information while still offering clear paths for options such as getting additional details on the test, submitting results, and running the test again. Below, we show the results screen from a battery life test. Note the “Main menu” link in the upper-left corner, which we added to all screens to give users a quick way to navigate back to the home screen.

CrXPRT 2 development and testing are still underway. We don’t yet have an exact release date for the CP, but once we do, we’ll announce it here in the blog.

What do you think about the new CrXPRT 2 UI? Let us know!

Justin

Check out the other XPRTs: