The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) Graphics and Workstation Performance Group (GWPG) was formed in 1986 under the National Computer Graphics Association (NCGA). GWPG joined SPEC in 1996 joined SPEC in 1996, and today is one of five groups developing benchmarks and tools under the SPEC umbrella.
SPEC offers six benchmarks based primarily on commercial applications, and they can be downloaded for free. There are three primary committees within SPEC:
SPECapc—Develops application-based benchmarks that measure total system performance. Offers five benchmarks based on CAD/CAM and media/entertainment applications.
SPECgpc—Develops SPECviewperf, the world’s most widely used benchmark for computer systems running graphics-intensive professional applications.
SPECwpc—Develops SPECworkstation, a comprehensive benchmark that measures key aspects of workstation performance based on diverse professional applications.
Among the developments in 2022, the organization launched a newly designed (and attractive) website.
The benchmarks SPEC offers are SPECviewperf (performance), SPECworkstation, SPECapc for SolidWorks, SPECapc for 3ds Max, SPECapc for Creo, and SPECapc for Maya. The organization also has benchmarks for other apps and components.
SPECviewperf 2020 v3.1 was released August 4, 2022. It measures the 3D graphics performance of systems running under the OpenGL and DirectX application programming interfaces. Major updates included support for Windows 11 and enhanced support for 4K resolution.
New viewsets were taken from API traces of the latest versions of many applications, including Dassault Systèmes’ Catia, Autodesk’s Maya, and Dassault Systèmes’ SolidWorks. Updated models have been included in Catia-06, Creo-03, Medical-03, and SolidWorks-07 tests.
SPECapc for SolidWorks 2022 was released on September 15, 2022. It included 10 models and more than 50 tests exercising a full range of graphics and CPU functionality. Updates included support for Windows 11 64 bit and two new tests—CPU Boolean Addition and CPU Mass Properties are multithreaded workloads that offer enhanced benchmarking for CPUs with many cores.
SPECapc for 3ds Max 2020 was released in March 2022. It includes 43 tests for comprehensive measurement of CPU and GPU performance with modeling, interactive graphics, and visual effects. Features of this benchmark, including shaders and vector maps, viewport enhancements, and dynamic and visual effects, have been migrated for use in Autodesk 3ds Max 2020. Additional features include a new GUI and a new Results Manager for better results reporting.
SPECworkstation 3.1 was released on March 17, 2021. It includes more than 30 workloads containing nearly 140 tests that exercise CPU, graphics, I/O, and memory bandwidth. The updates included improvements in how workloads partition and distribute threads across multi-core CPUs, expanded support for next-generation GPUs, and vectorization that leverages advanced CPU hardware to accelerate performance.
For 2022 and 2023, the organization plans to increase GWPG downloads and revenue, recruit at least one new member, and increase technical and marketing collaboration with ISVs that develop applications on which benchmarks are based.
SPECapc for Maya 2023 will get updates in the benchmark including new and more complicated workloads and larger models compared to the previous version of the benchmark. It will have 47 tests using 11 different models and animations, eight different graphics tests in various modes, plus five different CPU tests. Various tests will measure animation and 3D model rotation performance. SPEC hopes to have the new tests ready by the end of October, if not earlier.
The graphics-oriented tests use six different Maya view settings—Shaded, Shaded SSAO, wireframe on shading, wireframe on shaded SSAO, textured, and textured SSAO. Various tests measure both animation and 3D model rotation performance. Five CPU tests within the benchmark perform CPU ray tracing and evaluation caching in various modes.
- Sol and Solette animation—1.8 million triangles, 1.25GB of texture
- Apollo 11—well textured modeled character
- Sven—10 copies of a character model, rigged for animation
- Tiger—1.3GB realistically rendered tiger model, with hair
- Space Crash—A Bifrost simulation of a spaceship crashing into water
- Jungle Escape—Action animation scene featuring the Sven character
- Room ray trace—A ray-traced room (using CPU ray tracing)
- Sol ray trace—Sol, ray-traced (using CPU ray tracing)
- Wood scene ray trace—A ray-traced tree (using CPU ray tracing)
- Wall of Death model— Measures evaluation cache performance
The next version of SPECviewperf will also get a major revision that will include new APIs (DX12, Vulkan) and technologies (path tracing) based on actual application usage, as well as better support of display DPI scaling.
And the next version of SPECworkstation will get an overhaul of workloads and GUI, new ML/AI verticals, targeting reduced runtime, minimal tuning parameters (e.g., no more “threads-per-process”), and automation via CLI.
What do we think?
GWPG is a small team, all of whom have a full-time job. The team’s SPEC activity is supported by their companies, mostly which are members and founders of the SPEC organization. Many of the team members have been with the organization for over a decade.
We think they offer an invaluable service and asset to the industry. They maintain historical test data as well as all submitted test results from independent testers like us.
We encourage any company thinking about or are curious about joining SPEC to do so—it’s a win-win situation.