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Up next for WebXPRT 4: A new AI-focused workload!

We’re always thinking about ways to improve WebXPRT. In the past, we’ve discussed the potential benefits of auxiliary workloads and the role that such workloads might play in future WebXPRT updates and versions. Today, we’re very excited to announce that we’ve decided to move forward with the development of a new WebXPRT 4 workload focused on browser-side AI technology!

WebXPRT 4 already includes timed AI tasks in two of its workloads: the Organize Album using AI workload and the Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan workload. These two workloads reflect the types of light browser-side inference tasks that have been available for a while now, but most heavy-duty inference on the web has historically happened in on-prem servers or in the cloud. Now, localized AI technology is growing by leaps and bounds, and the integration of new AI capabilities with browser-based tasks is on the threshold of advancing rapidly.

Because of this growth, we believe now is the time to start work on giving WebXPRT 4 the ability to evaluate new browser-based AI capabilities—capabilities that are likely to become a part of everyday life in the next few years. We haven’t yet decided on a test scenario or software stack for the new workload, but we’ll be working to refine our plan in the coming months. There seems to be some initial promise in emerging frameworks such as ONNX Runtime Web, which allows users to run and deploy web-based machine learning models by using JavaScript APIs and libraries. In addition, new Web APIs like WebGPU (currently supported in Edge, Chrome, and tech preview in Safari) and WebNN (in development) may soon help facilitate new browser-side AI workloads.

We know that many longtime WebXPRT 4 users will have questions about how this new workload may affect their tests. We want to assure you that the workload will be an optional bonus workload and will not run by default during normal WebXPRT 4 tests. As you consider possibilities for the new workload, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • The workload will be optional for users to run.
  • It will not affect the main WebXPRT 4 subtest or overall scores in any way.
  • It will run separately from the main test and will produce its own score(s).
  • Current and future WebXPRT 4 results will still be comparable to one another, so users who’ve already built a database of WebXPRT 4 scores will not have to retest their devices.
  • Because many of the available frameworks don’t currently run on all browsers, the workload may not run on every platform.

As we research available technologies and explore our options, we would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for an AI workload scenario that you think would be useful or thoughts on how we should implement it, please let us know! We’re excited about adding new technologies and new value to WebXPRT 4, and we look forward to sharing more information here in the blog as we make progress.


The role of potential WebXPRT 4 auxiliary workloads

As we mentioned in our most recent blog post, we’re seeking suggestions for ways to improve WebXPRT 4. We’re open to the prospect of adding both non-workload features and new auxiliary tests, e.g., a battery life or WebGPU-based graphics test scenario.

To prevent any confusion among WebXPRT 4 testers, we want to reiterate that any auxiliary workloads we might add will not affect existing WebXPRT 4 subtest or overall scores in any way. Auxiliary tests would be experimental or targeted workloads that run separately from the main test and produce their own scores. Current and future WebXPRT 4 results will be comparable to one another, so users who’ve already built a database of WebXPRT 4 scores will not have to retest their devices. Any new tests will be add-ons that allow us to continue expanding the rapidly growing body of published WebXPRT 4 test results while making the benchmark even more valuable to users overall.

If you have any thoughts about potential browser performance workloads, or any specific web technologies that you’d like to test, please let us know.


How we evaluate new WebXPRT workload proposals

A key value of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community is our openness to user feedback. Whether it’s positive feedback about our benchmarks, constructive criticism, ideas for completely new benchmarks, or proposed workload scenarios for existing benchmarks, we appreciate your input and give it serious consideration.

We’re currently accepting ideas and suggestions for ways we can improve WebXPRT 4. We are open to adding both non-workload features and new auxiliary tests, which can be experimental or targeted workloads that run separately from the main test and produce their own scores. You can read more about experimental WebXPRT 4 workloads here. However, a recent user question about possible WebGPU workloads has prompted us to explain the types of parameters that we consider when we evaluate a new WebXPRT workload proposal.

Community interest and real-life relevance

The first two parameters we use when evaluating a WebXPRT workload proposal are straightforward: are people interested in the workload and is it relevant to real life? We originally developed WebXPRT to evaluate device performance using the types of web-based tasks that people are likely to encounter daily, and real-life relevancy continues to be an important criterion for us during development. There are many technologies, functions, and use cases that we could test in a web environment, but only some of them are both relevant to common applications or usage patterns and likely to be interesting to lab testers and tech reviewers.

Maximum cross-platform support

Currently, WebXPRT runs in almost any web browser, on almost any device that has a web browser, and we would ideally maintain that broad level of cross-platform support when introducing new workloads. However, technical differences in the ways that different browsers execute tasks mean that some types of scenarios would be impossible to include without breaking our cross-platform commitment.

One reason that we’re considering auxiliary workloads with WebXPRT, e.g., a battery life rundown, is that those workloads would allow WebXPRT to offer additional value to users while maintaining the cross-platform nature of the main test. Even if a battery life test ran on only one major browser, it could still be very useful to many people.

Performance differentiation

Computer benchmarks such as the XPRTs exist to provide users with reliable metrics that they can use to gauge how well target platforms or technologies perform certain tasks. With a broadly targeted benchmark such as WebXPRT, if the workloads are so heavy that most devices can’t handle them, or so light that most devices complete them without being taxed, the results will have little to no use for OEM labs, the tech press, or independent users when evaluating devices or making purchasing decisions.

Consequently, with any new WebXPRT workload, we try to find a sweet spot in terms of how demanding it is. We want it to run on a wide range of devices—from low-end devices that are several years old to brand-new high-end devices and everything in between. We also want users to see a wide range of workload scores and resulting overall scores, so they can easily grasp the different performance capabilities of the devices under test.

Consistency and replicability

Finally, workloads should produce scores that consistently fall within an acceptable margin of error, and are easily to replicate with additional testing or comparable gear. Some web technologies are very sensitive to uncontrollable or unpredictable variables, such as internet speed. A workload that measures one of those technologies would be unlikely to produce results that are consistent and easily replicated.

We hope this post will be useful for folks who are contemplating potential new WebXPRT workloads. If you have any general thoughts about browser performance testing, or specific workload ideas that you’d like us to consider, please let us know.


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