The MediaStones(TM) benchmark was released at WinHec 95 by Providenza & Boekelheide, Inc. This benchmarking program was the first to use full motion video to explain what is happening while fully testing the subsystems utilized by multimedia applications. MediaStones was designed for Windows 3.x computers running Microsoft Video for Windows 1.1. While MediaStones is a bit out-of-date, it does run well under Windows 9x and is a good example of some of the types of products and services P&B is capable of delivering.
The original white paper is available below.
Benchmarking in the Motion Video World
By Tim Roberts, March 1995 (timr(at)probo.com)
When a group of computer industry professionals get together, either professionally or socially, the discussion invariably turns to benchmarking. Few topics offer the opportunity for such a wide variety of opinions and interpretations as do the current (or not so current) suite of popular benchmarks. One of the problems with benchmarks is that, because computer workloads vary so widely, no existing benchmark will ever be able to exactly predict the performance characteristics experienced by an actual computer user. Even so, benchmarks can be a useful tool in the comparison of computers, computer systems and computer peripherals, as long as the limitations and target areas of the benchmark under consideration are well understood.
One area where benchmarks have the potential to be particularly useful is in evaluating motion video quality and performance. A number of advances have been made in the recent past in the development of motion video hardware and software. The release and rapid adoption Microsoft's Display Control Interface (DCI) as part of Video for Windows 1.1 has produced a crop of video and audio subsystems with sophisticated capabilities for displaying digitized movies. It has also led to the development of related software that can take advantage of these sophisticated capabilities. Unfortunately the speed with which these changes have taken place did not allow time for current benchmarks to adequately address the special considerations and performance profiles of these multimedia systems.
Making things even more difficult, the performance of personal computer systems has increased to the point where raw performance is not necessarily the most important factor in choosing a multimedia subsystem. Despite claims made by video chip vendors, the difference between an instantaneous screen repaint and one which is 50 percent faster is simply not relevant. Both systems are "fast enough." It is more important to measure and quantify the quality of a multimedia system, not just the performance.
We at Providenza & Boekelheide, Inc. (P&B) recognized the advances being made in multimedia systems and the lack of adequate tools to measure and compare these systems. We have constructed a new benchmark tool that measures not only the performance but the quality of multimedia systems aimed at the Video for Windows user. MediaStones(TM) is the result of this effort.
MediaStones(TM) provides quantitative measurements in an educational and entertaining way. It features a full-motion video "talking head" that explains what is happening and gives the viewer hints of what performance issues to observe and evaluate. MediaStones(TM) addresses the shortcomings of even the most commonly referenced existing benchmarks, including the widely used Winmark benchmark.
If you would like to have a complimentary copy of the MediaStones CD mailed to you, please send a self-addressed, postage paid (we will add about 3oz of material to the mailer) CD-ROM mailer to:
7460 SW Hunziker St
Tigard, OR 97223