In today's online world, hands-on evaluation of a PC is not always realistic, so benchmarks still have an important role to play. There are currently three benchmarks I believe provide a well-rounded picture of modern compute architectures based on the typical workload of today's consumer and commercial users. Two of them are produced by Futuremark®, an organization that is open to the whole computing industry. Its recent PCMark 8 v2 benchmark suite was developed as the complete PC benchmark for home and business in collaboration with many of the industry's biggest names including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and many semiconductor manufacturers. To gain a fuller view of system performance, a suite of modern benchmarks can be used adding the likes of Futuremark 3DMark for graphics and GPU compute performance and Basemark CL from Rightware for total system compute.
Creating high-quality benchmarks that truly represent today's workloads and provide an accurate picture to users' needs should be inclusive of the whole industry. When the industry does not work together, it can result in benchmarks that are not representative of real-world tasks and can be skewed to favor one hardware vendor over another. This has happened before and while one hardware vendor may benefit, the real loser is the consumer who is presented with skewed performance figures and may pay for a perceived performance benefit.
Ultimately, it is the consumer that wins when the industry works together. The European Commission's recent decision to endorse PCMark and make it a vital part of government procurement procedures is a win not just for Futuremark but those wanting to accurately measure system performance. Users can be assured that PCMark's reputation is that of an accurate, representative and unbiased benchmark that stands up to the highest scrutiny.
Benchmarks may be a valuable tool for your buying decision process and an important element in your final decision, but at the end of the day, the best and toughest benchmark is you.
- David Bennett is corporate vice president and head of worldwide commercial sales at AMD.