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Futuremark demos new, more taxing mobile 3D benchmark, PCMark for mobile

At Mobile World Congress 2014, Futuremark showed off two brand new benchmarks for mobile devices.


BARCELONA, Spain -- As a devout user of Futuremark's mobile 3D benchmark, 3DMark, it brought a smile to my face to see two new benchmark demoed at Mobile World Congress 2014. Each are coming later this year to Android, iOS, and Windows RT.

The first is a new workload for 3DMark, the company's mobile benchmark for testing a device's 3D graphics prowess. The second is a version of PCMark for mobile. Which is more of an overall system test.

The new 3DMark workload is coming in April, while the PCMark is currently slated to hit in June at the earliest. Each benchmark's workloads will also double at battery tests. Looping the through the tests until the battery dies and delivering a battery life duration.


A more taxing three dimensions
The new 3DMark workload I saw was actually a somewhat downgraded version of one of its workloads for desktops, called Cloud Gate. As powerful as mobile GPUs have gotten in the last few years, they still aren't as good as traditional PCs and notebooks.

The demo ran on the iPad Air and although not the final version of the benchmark, topped out at about 12 frames-per-second according to Futuremark and my own keen eyes.

The workload was made using OpenGL ES 3.0, which allows for more advanced effects like true volumetric fog, a higher depth of field, and more advanced shader effects. The demo ran slow of course because it's designed to really put current and future GPUs through the ringer. One of my disappointments with the original workloads was that they were maxed out too quickly. The new workload definitely appears more future-proof.


Simulated pauses are the way to realism
The PCMark demo simulated a user visiting different Web sites (including a Pinterest clone), watching local video, and performing some Instagram-style photo editing.

The test runs in real-time with simulated pauses to drive home its real-world credibility. The local video test uses hardware acceleration to test the device's video encoding capabilities.

A photo filtering test. Futuremark

The future (Mark)
I also got a very early sneak peak at a future version of 3DMark probably not arriving until 2015. As for details I can't give too much away -- or show pictures -- but I can say that it utilized tessellation, a technique that allows for better-looking graphics, while requiring less performance.

I'm happy to report that the demo ran like a dog on the iPad Air. Which is what you'd want from a benchmark that's a year from release. Look for more on these benchmarks over the next few months.