HomeWinBuzzer NewsIntel's Benchmark Strategies Under Scrutiny Following SPEC Accusations

Intel’s Benchmark Strategies Under Scrutiny Following SPEC Accusations

Intel accused of inflating CPU benchmark scores by optimizing compiler for specific tests. Over 2600 results disqualified.

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Intel has come under fire for allegedly inflating benchmark scores, according to findings by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). SPEC claims that Intel incorporated specific optimizations into its oneAPI DPC++ compiler, tailored to enhance the performance scores of certain benchmarks. This revelation has sparked a debate on the legitimacy of benchmark optimizations and their impact on the industry’s competitive landscape.

Scrutiny of Intel’s Compiler Tactics

The controversy centers around the “523.xalancbmk_r” and “623.xalancbmk_s” benchmarks, which are designed to evaluate Xalan and eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) output. SPEC’s investigation reveals that the compiler utilized for Intel’s Xeon Platinum 8480+ (Sapphire Rapids) results performed optimizations that specifically targeted the improvement of these benchmarks using a priori knowledge of the SPEC code and dataset. These enhancements were found to have “narrow applicability,” prompting SPEC to disqualify the optimizations in question as per rule number 14 of the SPEC 2017 Run and Reporting Rules. Consequently, over 2600+ results have been dismissed from official publication, though they remain in the SPEC database for historical reference.

Benchmark Integrity and Industry Competition

Intel’s actions have reignited discussions around the ethics of benchmark optimizations. Companies like AMD and Intel frequently leverage SPEC results to highlight the instructions per clock cycle (IPC) performance of their processors. Intel’s alleged attempt to skew benchmark performance in its favor could be seen as a strategy to maintain an edge over AMD, especially as AMD continues to increase its market share in data centers. This incident is not isolated; Intel has previously faced accusations of influencing benchmark outcomes. Notably, benchmarking software including Cinebench version 11.5 and PCMark 2005 were reported to contain code that disadvantaged AMD processors when detected, leading to poorer performance scores.

The recent developments serve as a reminder of the competitive pressures within the CPU market and the lengths to which companies might go to position their products favorably. As the industry continues to evolve, transparency and fairness in benchmarking practices remain critical for maintaining consumer trust and ensuring a level playing field.

SourcePhoronix
Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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