Our New Testing Suite for 2018 and 2019

Spectre and Meltdown Hardened

In order to keep up to date with our testing, we have to update our software every so often to stay relevant. In our updates we typically implement the latest operating system, the latest patches, the latest software revisions, the newest graphics drivers, as well as add new tests or remove old ones. As regular readers will know, our CPU testing revolves an automated test suite, and depending on how the newest software works, the suite either needs to change, be updated, have tests removed, or be rewritten completely. Last time we did a full re-write, it took the best part of a month, including regression testing (testing older processors).

One of the key elements of our testing update for 2018 (and 2019) is the fact that our scripts and systems are designed to be hardened for Spectre and Meltdown. This means making sure that all of our BIOSes are updated with the latest microcode, and all the steps are in place with our operating system with updates. In this case we are using Windows 10 x64 Enterprise 1709 with April security updates which enforces Smeltdown (our combined name) mitigations. Uses might ask why we are not running Windows 10 x64 RS4, the latest major update – this is due to some new features which are giving uneven results. Rather than spend a few weeks learning to disable them, we’re going ahead with RS3 which has been widely used.

Our previous benchmark suite was split into several segments depending on how the test is usually perceived. Our new test suite follows similar lines, and we run the tests based on:

  • Power
  • Memory
  • Office
  • System
  • Render
  • Encoding
  • Web
  • Legacy
  • Integrated Gaming
  • CPU Gaming

Depending on the focus of the review, the order of these benchmarks might change, or some left out of the main review. All of our data will reside in our benchmark database, Bench, for which there is a new ‘CPU 2019’ section for all of our new tests.

Within each section, we will have the following tests:

Power

Our power tests consist of running a substantial workload for every thread in the system, and then probing the power registers on the chip to find out details such as core power, package power, DRAM power, IO power, and per-core power. This all depends on how much information is given by the manufacturer of the chip: sometimes a lot, sometimes not at all.

We are currently running POV-Ray as our main test for Power, as it seems to hit deep into the system and is very consistent. In order to limit the number of cores for power, we use an affinity mask driven from the command line.

Memory

These tests involve disabling all turbo modes in the system, forcing it to run at base frequency, and them implementing both a memory latency checker (Intel’s Memory Latency Checker works equally well for both platforms) and AIDA64 to probe cache bandwidth.

Office

  • Chromium Compile: Windows VC++ Compile of Chrome 56 (same as 2017)
  • PCMark10: Primary data will be the overview results – subtest results will be in Bench
  • 3DMark Physics: We test every physics sub-test for Bench, and report the major ones (new)
  • GeekBench4: By request (new)
  • SYSmark 2018: Recently released by BAPCo, currently automating it into our suite (new, when feasible)

System

  • Application Load: Time to load GIMP 2.10.4 (new)
  • FCAT: Time to process a 90 second ROTR 1440p recording (same as 2017)
  • 3D Particle Movement: Particle distribution test (same as 2017) – we also have AVX2 and AVX512 versions of this, which may be added later
  • Dolphin 5.0: Console emulation test (same as 2017)
  • DigiCortex: Sea Slug Brain simulation (same as 2017)
  • y-Cruncher v0.7.6: Pi calculation with optimized instruction sets for new CPUs (new)
  • Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3: 2D image to 3D modelling tool (updated)

Render

  • Corona 1.3: Performance renderer for 3dsMax, Cinema4D (same as 2017)
  • Blender 2.79b: Render of bmw27 on CPU (updated to 2.79b)
  • LuxMark v3.1 C++ and OpenCL: Test of different rendering code paths (same as 2017)
  • POV-Ray 3.7.1: Built-in benchmark (updated)
  • CineBench R15: Older Cinema4D test, will likely remain in Bench (same as 2017)

Encoding

  • 7-zip 1805: Built-in benchmark (updated to v1805)
  • WinRAR 5.60b3: Compression test of directory with video and web files (updated to 5.60b3)
  • AES Encryption: In-memory AES performance. Slightly older test. (same as 2017)
  • Handbrake 1.1.0: Logitech C920 1080p60 input file, transcoded into three formats for streaming/storage:
    • 720p60, x264, 6000 kbps CBR, Fast, High Profile
    • 1080p60, x264, 3500 kbps CBR, Faster, Main Profile
    • 1080p60, HEVC, 3500 kbps VBR, Fast, 2-Pass Main Profile

Web

  • WebXPRT3: The latest WebXPRT test (updated)
  • WebXPRT15: Similar to 3, but slightly older. (same as 2017)
  • Speedometer2: Javascript Framework test (new)
  • Google Octane 2.0: Depreciated but popular web test (same as 2017)
  • Mozilla Kraken 1.1: Depreciated but popular web test (same as 2017)

Legacy (same as 2017)

  • 3DPM v1: Older version of 3DPM, very naïve code
  • x264 HD 3.0: Older transcode benchmark
  • Cinebench R11.5 and R10: Representative of different coding methodologies

Linux (when feasible)

When in full swing, we wish to return to running LinuxBench 1.0. This was in our 2016 test, but was ditched in 2017 as it added an extra complication layer to our automation. By popular request, we are going to run it again.

Integrated and CPU Gaming

We have recently automated around a dozen games at four different performance levels. A good number of games will have frame time data, however due to automation complications, some will not. The idea is that we get a good overview of a number of different genres and engines for testing. So far we have the following games automated:

AnandTech CPU Gaming 2019 Game List
Game Genre Release Date API IGP Low Med High
World of Tanks enCore Driving / Action Feb
2018
DX11 768p
Minimum
1080p
Medium
1080p
Ultra
4K
Ultra
Final Fantasy XV JRPG Mar
2018
DX11 720p
Standard
1080p
Standard
4K
Standard
8K
Standard
Shadow of War Action / RPG Sep
2017
DX11 720p
Ultra
1080p
Ultra
4K
High
8K
High
F1 2018 Racing Aug
2018
DX11 720p
Low
1080p
Med
4K
High
4K
Ultra
Civilization VI RTS Oct
2016
DX12 1080p
Ultra
4K
Ultra
8K
Ultra
16K
Low
Car Mechanic Simulator '18 Simulation / Racing July
2017
DX11 720p
Low
1080p
Medium
1440p
High
4K
Ultra
Ashes: Classic RTS Mar
2016
DX12 720p
Standard
1080p
Standard
1440p
Standard
4K
Standard
Strange Brigade* FPS Aug
2018
DX12
Vulkan
720p
Low
1080p
Medium
1440p
High
4K
Ultra
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Action Sep
2018
DX12 720p
Low
1080p
Medium
1440p
High
4K
Highest
Grand Theft Auto V Open World Apr
2015
DX11 720p
Low
1080p
High
1440p
Very High
4K
Ultra
Far Cry 5 FPS Mar
2018
DX11 720p
Low
1080p
Normal
1440p
High
4K
Ultra
*Strange Brigade is run in DX12 and Vulkan modes

For our CPU Gaming tests, we will be running on an NVIDIA GTX 1080. For the CPU benchmarks, we use an RX460 as we now have several units for concurrent testing.

In previous years we tested multiple GPUs on a small number of games – this time around, due to a Twitter poll I did which turned out exactly 50:50, we are doing it the other way around: more games, fewer GPUs.

Scale Up vs Scale Out: Benefits of Automation

One comment we get every now and again is that automation isn’t the best way of testing – there’s a higher barrier to entry, and it limits the tests that can be done. From our perspective, despite taking a little while to program properly (and get it right), automation means we can do several things:

  1. Guarantee consistent breaks between tests for cooldown to occur, rather than variable cooldown times based on ‘if I’m looking at the screen’
  2. It allows us to simultaneously test several systems at once. I currently run five systems in my office (limited by the number of 4K monitors, and space) which means we can process more hardware at the same time
  3. We can leave tests to run overnight, very useful for a deadline
  4. With a good enough script, tests can be added very easily

Our benchmark suite collates all the results and spits out data as the tests are running to a central storage platform, which I can probe mid-run to update data as it comes through. This also acts as a mental check in case any of the data might be abnormal.

We do have one major limitation, and that rests on the side of our gaming tests. We are running multiple tests through one Steam account, some of which (like GTA) are online only. As Steam only lets one system play on an account at once, our gaming script probes Steam’s own APIs to determine if we are ‘online’ or not, and to run offline tests until the account is free to be logged in on that system. Depending on the number of games we test that absolutely require online mode, it can be a bit of a bottleneck.

Benchmark Suite Updates

As always, we do take requests. It helps us understand the workloads that everyone is running and plan accordingly.

A side note on software packages: we have had requests for tests on software such as ANSYS, or other professional grade software. The downside of testing this software is licensing and scale. Most of these companies do not particularly care about us running tests, and state it’s not part of their goals. Others, like Agisoft, are more than willing to help. If you are involved in these software packages, the best way to see us benchmark them is to reach out. We have special versions of software for some of our tests, and if we can get something that works, and relevant to the audience, then we shouldn’t have too much difficulty adding it to the suite.

Test Bed and Setup HEDT Performance: Encoding Tests
POST A COMMENT

145 Comments

View All Comments

  • MisterAnon - Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - link

    PNC is not right at all, he's completely wrong. Unless your job requires you to walk around and type at the same time using a laptop is a net loss of producitivity for zero gain. At a professional workplace anyone who thinks that way would definitely be fired. If you're going to be in the same room for 8 hours a day doing real work, it makes sense to have a desktop with dual monitors. You will be faster, more efficient, more productive, and more comfortable. Powerful desktops are more useful today than ever before due to the complexity of modern demands. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - link

    What is your source for gamers being the primary consumers of HDET? Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - link

    Well of course for programming its ok. That is like saying you moved from a desktop to a phone for typing. It requires nothing to type hardly for power. lol That pretty much as always been the case. Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - link

    I think you are implying programming is not a CPU intensive task? Certainly it can be low intensity for small projects, but trust me it can also use as much CPU as you can possibly throw at it. When you have a project that requires compiling thousands or tens of thousands of files to build it ... the workload scales fairly linearly with the number of cores, up to some fuzzy limit mostly set by memory bandwidth. Reply
  • npz - Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - link

    You're not working in a studio environment I see, such as an animation studio. A web app doesn't require big power. I work in software dev too, but we require big iron test machines and big iron development machines. It takes a couple of hours to compile C and bits of other languages (scripting and assembly) over 28 cores HT and large raid. Of course we can do most things remotely so what we individually use doesn't matter. Reply
  • twtech - Thursday, November 15, 2018 - link

    I also work in software development (games), and my experience has been completely the opposite. I've actually only known one programmer who preferred to work on a laptop - he bought a really high-end Clevo DTR and brought it in to work.

    I do have a laptop at my desk - I brought in a Surface Book 2 - but I mostly just use it for taking notes. I don't code on it.

    Unless you're going to be moving around all the time, I don't know why you'd prefer to look at one small screen and type on a sub-par laptop keyboard if there's the choice of something better readily available. And two 27" screens is pretty much the minimum baseline - I have 3x 30" here at home.

    :And then of course there's the CPU - if you're working on a really small codebase, it might not matter. But if it's a big codebase, with C++, you want to have a lot of cores to be able to distribute the compiling load. That's why I'm really interested in the forthcoming W3175x - high clocks plus 28 cores on a monolithic chip sounds like a winning combination for code compiling. High end for a laptop is what, 6 cores now?
    Reply
  • Laibalion - Saturday, November 17, 2018 - link

    What utter nonsense. I'be been working on large and complex c++ codebases (2M+ LOC for a single product) for over a decade, and compute power is an absolute necessity to work efficiently. Compile times such beast scales linearly (if done properly), so no one wants a shit mobile cpu for their workstation. Reply
  • HStewart - Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - link

    Mobile has been this way for decade - I got a new job working at home and everyone is on laptops - todays laptop are as powerful as most desks - work has quad core notebook and this is my 2nd notebook and first one was from nine years ago. Desktops were not used in my previous job. Notebook mean you can be mobile - for me that is when I go to home office which is not often - but also bring notebook to meeting and such.

    I am development C++ and .net primary.

    Desktop are literary dinosaurs now becoming part of history.
    Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - link

    You are not working on big enough projects. For your projects, a laptop may be sufficient; but for larger projects, there is certainly a wide chasm of difference between the capabilities of a laptop and those of a workstation class developer system. Reply
  • MisterAnon - Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - link

    Today's laptops are not as powerful as desktops. They use slow mobile processors, and overheat easily due to thermals. If you're working from home you're still sitting in a chair all day, meaning you don't need a laptop. If your company fired you and hired someone who uses a desktop with dual monitors, they would get significantly more work done for them per dollar. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now