HWBot bans Windows 8 over RTC flaw

August 19, 2013 | 08:39

Tags: #base-clock #benchmark #benchmarking #overclock #overclocking #underclocking #windows #windows-8

Companies: #hwbot #microsoft

Benchmarking site HWBot has announced that Windows 8 is no longer welcome on its service, with all existing results posted from Windows 8 machines becoming invalid overnight.

Designed as a web-based league for professional overclocking, there is considerable competition for high-ranked placings in HWBot's listings. Now, however, those looking to compete will need to ensure they aren't running Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system - as it has been officially banned from participating.

'As the result of weekend-time research, the HWBot staff has [sic] decided to invalidate all benchmark records established with the Windows 8 operating system,' the team behind the site explained in a blog posting made late last night. 'Due to severe validity problems with the Windows 8 real time clock, benchmarks results achieved with Windows 8 cannot be trusted. The main problem lies with the RTC being affected when over- or under-clocking under the operating system. The operating system uses the RTC as reference clock, and benchmarks use it to reference (benchmark) time.'

The result: a skew on the Windows 8 real-time clock can result in a benchmark thinking more or less time has passed than in reality - meaning the benchmark results are unreliable. It's something the team has come across before: in 2010, it released an update for the HWBot Unigine Heaven wrapper, designed to make it easy to submit scores to the site, to prevent score falsification when a system was underclocked - resolving an issue in the benchmark that saw a second lasting longer than it should.

While the old bug only affected the Unigine Heaven benchmark running under Windows 7, however, this latest incarnation causes all benchmarks to report inaccurate results under Windows 8. The effect can be considerable, too: in testing, the HWBot team found that benchmarks could be skewed by over seven per cent when underclocking the processor's base clock frequency but adjusting the multiplier to keep the speed the same.

'In order to compare we need the RTC bias to be equal for all systems. With Windows 8, we can only use question marks,' the team concluded. 'Practically speaking, it is not allowed to: exploit the Windows 8 RTC for benchmark purposes; submit any benchmark results with RTC bias. The HWBOT staff will: block any seemingly out-of-line Windows 8-based benchmark results; block any Windows8-based benchmark record, even if the score seems in line with the expectations.'

The latter, of course, is the key: all Windows 8 benchmark results are now considered invalid on the site, with existing results likely to be purged from the system in the near future. Anyone looking to submit new scores to the site will need to ensure they are running an operating system unaffected by the flaw, like Windows 7.

Thus far, Microsoft has not responded to a request for comment on the apparent bug with the Windows 8 RTC - which is serious enough to cause the system clock to lose or gain time if the processor's base clock is altered away from its default.
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