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A note about AIXPRT

Recently, a member of the tech press asked us about the status of AIXPRT, our benchmark that measures machine learning inference performance. We want to share our answer here in the blog for the benefit of other readers. The writer said it seemed like we had not updated AIXPRT in a long time, and wondered whether we had any immediate plans to do so.

It’s true that we haven’t updated AIXPRT in quite some time. Unfortunately, while a few tech press publications and OEM labs began experimenting with AIXPRT testing, the benchmark never got the traction we hoped for, and we’ve decided to invest our resources elsewhere for the time being. The AIXPRT installation packages are still available for people to use or reference as they wish, but we have not updated the benchmark to work with the latest platform versions (OpenVINO, TensorFlow, etc.). It’s likely that several components in each package are out of date.

If you are interested in AIXPRT and would like us to bring it up to date, please let us know. We can’t promise that we’ll revive the benchmark, but your feedback could be a valuable contribution as we try to gauge the benchmarking community’s interest.

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

Thinking about experimental WebXPRT workloads in 2022

As the WebXPRT 4 development process has progressed, we’ve started to discuss the possibility of offering experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads in 2022. These would be optional workloads that test cutting-edge browser technologies or new use cases. The individual scores for the experimental workloads would stand alone, and would not factor in the WebXPRT 4 overall score.

WebXPRT testers would be able to run the experimental workloads one of two ways: by manually selecting them on the benchmark’s home screen, or by adjusting a value in the WebXPRT 4 automation scripts.

Testers would benefit from experimental workloads by being able to compare how well certain browsers or systems handle new tasks (e.g., new web apps or AI capabilities). We would benefit from fielding workloads for large-scale testing and user feedback before we commit to including them as core WebXPRT workloads.

Do you have any general thoughts about experimental workloads for browser performance testing, or any specific workloads that you’d like us to consider? Please let us know.

Justin

The AIXPRT learning tool is now live (and a CloudXPRT version is on the way)!

We’re happy to announce that the AIXPRT learning tool is now live! We designed the tool to serve as an information hub for common AIXPRT topics and questions, and to help tech journalists, OEM lab engineers, and everyone who is interested in AIXPRT find the answers they need in as little time as possible.

The tool features four primary areas of content:

  • The Q&A section provides quick answers to the questions we receive most from testers and the tech press.
  • The AIXPRT: the basics section describes specific topics such as the benchmark’s toolkits, networks, workloads, and hardware and software requirements.
  • The testing and results section covers the testing process, metrics, and how to publish results.
  • The AI/ML primer provides brief, easy-to-understand definitions of key AI and ML terms and concepts for those who want to learn more about the subject.

The first screenshot below shows the home screen. To show how some of the popup information sections appear, the second screenshot shows the Inference tasks (workloads) entry in the AI/ML Primer section. 

We’re excited about the new AIXPRT learning tool, and we’re also happy to report that we’re working on a version of the tool for CloudXPRT. We hope to make the CloudXPRT tool available early next year, and we’ll post more information in the blog as we get closer to taking it live.

If you have any questions about the tool, please let us know!

Justin

We’re working on an AIXPRT learning tool

For anyone interested in learning more about AIXPRT, the Introduction to AIXPRT white paper provides detailed information about its toolkits, workloads, system requirements, installation, test parameters, and results. However, for AIXPRT.com visitors who want to find the answers to specific AIXPRT-related questions quickly, a white paper can be daunting.

Because we want tech journalists, OEM lab engineers, and everyone who is interested in AIXPRT to be able to find the answers they need in as little time as possible, we’ve decided to develop a new learning tool that will serve as an information hub for common AIXPRT topics and questions.

The new learning tool will be available online through our site. It will offer quick bites of information about the fundamentals of AIXPRT, why the benchmark matters, the benefits of AIXPRT testing and results, machine learning concepts, key terms, and practical testing concerns.

We’re still working on the tool’s content and design. Because we’re designing this tool for you, we’d love to hear the topics and questions you think we should include. If you have any suggestions, please let us know!

Justin

The ongoing evolution of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community

This November will mark the tenth anniversary of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, which we originally called the HDXPRT Development Community. Since the early days of HDXPRT, our community has grown to include about 275 members from over 85 companies and organizations, and we’ve added seven benchmarks to the XPRT family. We initially mailed HDXPRT DVDs to testers interested in a new way to evaluate PC performance, and now thousands of users around the world download our benchmarks and rely on them to help measure the performance of everything from tablets to laptops to high-end datacenter hardware.

As the XPRTs continue to grow and evolve, we’ve worked to make sure that the resources that we offer—and the ways we offer them—continue to meet the needs of XPRT testers and community members. As we expand in the AI and datacenter spaces with AIXPRT and CloudXPRT, our user group is becoming larger and more diverse than ever. We have already made some changes to better serve this expanding group, and will be making additional changes over the months ahead.

The first set of changes relate to our community membership model. Originally, membership in the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community required a $20 fee and provided access to preview versions of new benchmarks, the ability to submit ideas for future benchmarks, and regular updates through our monthly newsletter and community announcements. To remove the financial obstacle to joining, we introduced a fee waiver process a few years ago.

Also, we know that some OEM employees and members of the tech press are interested in the XPRTs, but are unable to join the community for one reason or another. With these people in mind, we recently experimented with making the CloudXPRT Preview publicly available. Releasing preview builds to all who are interested makes it more likely that users will incorporate the XPRTs into their test suites, and we have decided to adopt this practice for other benchmarks going forward.

In the coming months, we’ll be updating parts of our website to increase access to XPRT content. For example, certain content such as source code for most of the XPRTs is currently available only to members. We plan to remove the login requirement for access to this material.

Please keep in mind that membership in the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community continues to offer exclusive opportunities. Members can join groups such as the CloudXPRT Results Review Group and offer direct input into the design of future benchmarks. Members also receive our monthly newsletters.

If you have any questions about the XPRTs or community membership, please feel free to ask!

Justin

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