Release of SPECworkstation 3 Opens the Door for Additional Benchmarking
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on November 27, 2018 |

The importance of benchmarking and understanding it hasn’t changed, but the options to do so just received a significant boost with the recent release of SPECworkstation 3, a redeveloped performance evaluation software with a host of new features and updates—that’s also free to users.

The SPEC Workstation Performance Characterization (SPECwpc) group—part of a nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of standardized benchmarks for more than 30 years—released its first workstation benchmark five years ago. Time and technology have changed, and so has the benchmark, which has been expanded to allow for a broader scope of testing and enhanced to be easier to use, capture real-world applications, and provide improved reporting and results.

“Since the release of SPECwpc 2.0 in November 2015, we've been analyzing every aspect of workstation performance characterized in the benchmark and making improvements across the board,” said Tom Fisher, SPECwpc chair. “We think SPECworkstation 3 represents the computing industry’s most comprehensive benchmark for measuring performance based on professional workstation applications.”

According to the SPECwpc press release, SPECworkstation 3 updates and enhancements include:

  • A totally redesigned storage workload based on traces of nearly two dozen applications
  • Workloads that reflect changes in updated versions of Blender, Handbrake, Python and LuxRender applications
  • Three dedicated GPU-accelerated workloads: LuxRender, physically based renderer; Caffe, a deep-learning framework; and Folding@home (FAH or F@h), a distributed computing project for disease research
  • Refreshed graphics workloads from SPECviewperf 13, including new viewsets representing Autodesk Maya, PTC Creo, energy (oil and gas), and medical applications
  • A more robust GUI and improved results validation and error reporting
  • An option to report results based on subsystems in addition to vertical market segments
One of SPECworkstation 3’s dedicated suites for workloads includes LuxRender, which uses LuxMark, a benchmark based on the new LuxCore physically based renderer, to render a chrome sphere. (Image courtesy of LuxCoreRender.)
One of SPECworkstation 3’s dedicated suites for workloads includes LuxRender, which uses LuxMark, a benchmark based on the new LuxCore physically based renderer, to render a chrome sphere. (Image courtesy of LuxCoreRender.)

SPECworkstation 3 has more than 30 workloads containing nearly 140 tests in an array of categories ranging from media to financial services to product development. This greatly broadens the ability of various industries, whether creating a medical prototype or simulating molecular interactions, to better gauge performance.

According to Fisher, the ever-changing storage environment was a driving force behind the desire to develop a different type of testing.

“Storage is an area undergoing rapid change with the proliferation of solid-state devices, new technologies like NAND and 3D Xpoint, and various PCIe connectivity options,” he said. “The new storage tests take the performance aspects of these new developments into consideration. They give users a much better idea of how various devices affect the performance of their workstations when running the applications most relevant to their day-to-day work.”

SPECworkstation 3 continues an evolving solution. Initial benchmarking results from SPECwpc members are included in the release, with plans to expand those over time as more people begin using the latest version.


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