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Results for the Windows UI Performance Assessment

Updated: October 20, 2013

Applies To: Windows 8.1

The Windows UI performance assessment measures responsiveness and rendering quality while the assessment exercises workloads that simulate user activities, such as using search in the Start screen and transitioning from the Start screen to the Desktop and back. For more information about the workloads, see Windows UI Performance.

Both search and transition workloads include animations. DirectComposition and Windows Animations Manager are the underlying technologies that are used to create animations for Windows® 8 UI. DirectComposition enables rich and fluid transitions by achieving a high frame rate, using graphics hardware, and operating independently of the UI thread. The overall visual composition is managed by the Desktop Window Manager (DWM).

Animation performance is measured by:

  • Effective frame rate

  • Number of animation frame glitches

  • First frame delay

This topic can help you interpret the metrics produced by the Windows UI Performance assessment. It also provides guidance on how to use the results to identify and resolve common issues that negatively affect the end user’s experience with the new Windows UI.

In this topic:

For more information about the assessment, workloads, system requirements and assessment settings, see Windows UI Performance.

You can create custom goals to measure your improvements in the Results View. Goals files are a triage tool that can help you understand how a PC is performing and to compare PCs in your business.

For example, goals for a basic laptop might be different than the goals you set for a high end desktop computer, or market expectations might change in such a way that you want the flexibility to define different goals and key requirements as time passes and technology improves.

When a metric value is compared to the goal for that metric, the status is color coded in the Result View as follows:

  • Light purple means that the system has a great user experience and that there are no perceived problems.

  • Medium purple means that the user experience is tolerable and you can optimize the system. Review the recommendations and analysis to see what improvements can be made to the system. These can be software changes, configuration changes or hardware changes.

  • Dark purple means that the system has a poor user experience and that there is significant room for improvements. Review the recommendations and analysis to see the improvements that can be made to the system. These can be software changes, configuration changes or hardware changes. You might have to consider making tradeoffs to deliver a high quality Windows experience.

  • No color means that there are no goals defined for the metric.

noteNote
In the Windows Assessment Toolkit for Windows 8, some assessments include default goals files. The first time you view results using this version of the tools, the default goals file is used. However, you can also define custom goals for Windows 8 the same way that you can for Windows 8.1.

You can set the goals file location and add a goals file to that location before you can use the UI to apply the custom goals. Once a goals file is selected it will continue to be the goals file that is used for any results that are opened.

Only one goals file can be used at a time. Goals for all assessments are set in a single goals file. The assessment tools will search for goals in the following order:

  1. A custom goals file

  2. Goals that are defined in the results file

  3. Goals that are defined in the assessment manifest

You can use the sample goals file that is provided at %PROGRAMFILES%\Windows Kits\8.1\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Assessment Toolkit\SDK\Samples\Goals to create your own goals file.

noteNote
You cannot package a goals file with a job, but you can store it on a share for others to use.

This assessment reports the following metrics to help you understand the performance of the new Windows UI.

noteNote
The metric values presented are the average values between all timing iterations. To see the values for individual iterations, in the Results View, right-click the results column header and then choose Show iterations.

Most applicable to: Video Driver Developers, OEMs

This metric shows an effective frame rate in Hertz based on the number of screen frames presented by the Desktop Window Manager (DWM) during the animation to show the search pane with app search results. The closer the effective animation frame rate is to the monitor screen refresh rate (usually 60 frames per second) the better.

Detailed Sub-metrics

When the metric is expanded, the following sub-metrics appear.

 

Time to Start Search Pane

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) to start the search pane after the assessment initiated the search operation.

Time to Retrieve the First Search Result

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) to retrieve the first search results after Windows displayed the search pane.

Time to Retrieve All Search Results

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) to retrieve all the search results after Windows displayed the search pane.

Search Show Animation: First Frame Delay

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) for Desktop Windows Manager (DWM) to compose the first frame of the search animation.

Search Show Animation: Glitches

The number of DWM glitches that occurred while rendering the search animation.

Typical Influencing Factors

  • CPU speed and utilization

  • GPU speed and utilization

  • Video memory capacity and utilization

  • System memory capacity and utilization

  • Driver delays

  • Drivers that take too long to process DPCs and ISRs

  • Disk I/O activity and hard faults

Analysis and Remediation Steps

The UI on computers that have lower duration numbers (in Milliseconds) to show the search pane and search results is more responsive than the UI on computers that have higher durations. On the other hand, higher effective animation frame rate (in Hertz) and lower count of DWM glitches lead to a better rendering experience.

Expand this metric to see the sub-metrics. A green bar next to the metric or sub-metric number indicates no perceived problems. A yellow bar indicates a chance to optimize this experience. A red bar indicates a need to improve this experience. Expanding the issues shown above the metric and looking over the information about them in the detailed pane on the right will give you some recommendations on how to fix these issues or how to perform further analysis in Windows Performance Analyzer (WPA).

For more information, see Common Issues.

Most applicable to: Video Driver Developers, OEMs

This metric shows an effective frame rate in Hertz based on the number of screen frames presented by DWM during the animation to hide the search pane. The user experience will be better the closer the effective animation frame rate is to the monitor screen refresh rate (usually 60 frames per second).

Detailed Sub-metrics

When the metric is expanded, the following sub-metrics appear.

 

Time to Dismiss Search Pane

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) to initiate the dismissal of the search pane. This time does not include the Search Hide Animation that occurs afterward.

Search Hide Animation: First Frame Delay

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) for DWM to compose the first frame of the Search Hide Animation.

Search Hide Animation: Glitches

The number of DWM scheduler glitches that occurred while rendering the animation to hide the search pane.

Typical Influencing Factors

  • CPU speed and utilization

  • GPU speed and utilization

  • Video memory capacity and utilization

  • System memory capacity and utilization

  • Driver delays

  • Drivers that take too long to process DPCs and ISRs

  • Disk I/O activity and hard faults

Analysis and Remediation Steps

The UI on computers that have lower duration numbers (in Milliseconds) for dismissing the search pane are more responsive than the UI on computers that have higher durations. On the other hand, higher effective animation frame rate (in Hertz) and lower count of DWM glitches equate to a better rendering experience.

Expand this metric to see the sub-metrics. A green bar next to the metric or sub-metric number indicates no perceived problems. A yellow bar indicates a chance to optimize this experience. A red bar indicates a need to improve this experience. Expanding the issues shown above the metric and looking over the information about them in the detailed pane on the right will give you some recommendations on how to fix these issues or how to perform further analysis in WPA.

For more information, see Common Issues.

Most applicable to: Video Driver Developers, OEMs

This metric shows an effective frame rate (in Hertz) for the animation to transition from the Desktop to the Start Screen. The user experience will be better the closer the effective animation frame rate is to the monitor screen refresh rate (usually 60 frames per second).

Detailed Sub-metrics

When the metric is expanded, the following sub-metrics appear.

 

Transition from Desktop to Start Screen

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) to start the transition from the Desktop to the Start screen.

Transition from Desktop to Start Screen Animation: First Frame Delay

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) from the start of the transition to the first frame of the transition animation composed by DWM.

Transition from Desktop to Start Screen Animation: Glitches

The number of DWM glitches that occur while rendering the transition animation.

Typical Influencing Factors

  • CPU speed and utilization

  • GPU speed and utilization

  • Video memory capacity and utilization

  • System memory capacity and utilization

  • Driver delays

  • Drivers that take too long to process DPCs and ISRs

  • Disk I/O activity and hard faults

Analysis and Remediation Steps

The UI on computers that have lower transition duration numbers (in Milliseconds) is more responsive than the UI on computers that have higher durations. On the other hand, higher effective animation frame rate (in Hertz) and lower count of DWM glitches equate to a better rendering experience.

Expand this metric to see the sub-metrics. A green bar next to the metric or sub-metric number indicates no perceived problems. A yellow bar indicates a chance to optimize this experience. A red bar indicates a need to improve this experience. Expanding the issues shown above the metric and looking over the information about them in the detailed pane on the right will give you some recommendations on how to fix these issues or how to perform further analysis in WPA.

For more information, see Common Issues.

Most applicable to: Video Driver Developers, OEMs

This metric shows an effective frame rate in Hertz for the animation to transition from the Start screen to the Desktop. The user experience will be better the closer the effective animation frame rate is to the monitor screen refresh rate (usually 60 frames per second).

Detailed Sub-metrics

When the metric is expanded, the following sub-metrics appear.

 

Transition from Start Screen to Desktop

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) to start the transition from the Start screen to the Desktop. This time does not include the transition animation that occurs afterward.

Transition from Start Screen to Desktop Animation: First Frame Delay

The elapsed time (in milliseconds) from the start of the transition to the first frame of the transition animation composed by DWM.

Transition from Start Screen to Desktop Animation: Glitches

The number of DWM scheduler glitches that occur while rendering the transition animation.

Typical Influencing Factors

  • CPU speed and utilization

  • GPU speed and utilization

  • Video memory capacity and utilization

  • System memory capacity and utilization

  • Driver delays

  • Drivers that take too long to process DPCs and ISRs

  • Disk I/O activity and hard faults

Analysis and Remediation Steps

The UI on computers that have lower transition duration numbers (in Milliseconds) is more responsive than the UI on computers that have higher numbers. On the other hand, higher effective animation frame rate (in Hertz) and lower count of DWM glitches equate to a better rendering experience.

Expand this metric to see the sub-metrics. A green bar next to the metric or sub-metric number indicates no perceived problems. An orange bar indicates a chance to optimize this experience. A red bar indicates a need to improve this experience. Expanding the issues shown above the metric and looking over the information about them in the detailed pane on the right will give you some recommendations on how to fix these issues or how to perform further analysis in WPA.

For more information, see Common Issues.

This assessment performs advanced issue analysis and provides links to WPA to troubleshoot the issues that are identified. In most cases, you can choose the WPA Analysis link to troubleshoot the issues that appear. When WPA opens additional details about disk activity or CPU activity might be available depending on the type of issue identified. For more information about in-depth analysis issues and recommendations, see Common In-Depth Analysis Issues.

Common issues for this assessment include the following:

This issue occurs when displaying the first animation frame is delayed. A delay of over 150 milliseconds between the start of the UI operation and the first frame may be noticeable to users and perceived as a lack of responsiveness.

To further analyze this issue, follow the link to open a timing trace in WPA. First, zoom into the activity (for example, SearchShowAnimationFirstFrame) that you would like to analyze in one of the timing iterations. Then look at CPU speed and utilization, system memory capacity and utilization, long-running DPCs and ISRs, disk I/O activity, hard faults and driver delays. The following graphs may be useful:

  • CPU Usage (look for high CPU utilization)

  • Interrupt CPU Usage (look for long-running interrupts)

  • DPC CPU Usage (look for long-running DPCs)

  • Disk Usage (look for I/O activity that takes a long time)

  • Hard Faults

Additionally you can see summary tables associated with these graphs by choosing the left-most icon in the top-right corner of each graph.

Frame rates lower than 30Hz cause a very low quality animation experience. Frame rates between 30Hz and 50Hz might indicate moderate performance problems that a user might not notice.

To further analyze these issues, follow the link to open a timing trace in WPA. First, zoom into the activity (for example, TransitionToDesktopAnimationFrameRate) that you would like to analyze in one of the timing iterations. Then look at schedule glitches, CPU speed and utilization, system memory capacity and utilization, long running DPCs and ISRs, disk I/O activity, hard faults and driver delays. The following graphs may be useful:

  • Generic Events (look for SCHEDULE_GLITCH events from Microsoft-Windows-Dwm-Core provider to see where animation glitches are occurring)

  • Interrupt CPU Usage (look for long-running interrupts that may be causing glitches)

  • DPC CPU Usage (look for long-running DPCs that may be causing glitches)

  • CPU Usage (look for high CPU utilization that may be interfering with DWM CPU usage)

  • Disk Usage (look for I/O activity that takes a long time)

  • Hard Faults

Additionally you can see summary tables associated with these graphs by choosing the left-most icon in the top-right corner of each graph.

To analyze the GPU performance, you must load the same trace in GPUView, another tool that is installed with the Windows® Performance Toolkit. In WPA, you can get the path to the trace file by going to Trace > System Configuration, and then selecting the Traces tab and copying Trace Filename cell contents. This is the file that you can open in GPUView. GPUView has a good help file to get you started, but here is a brief overview of what to look at in GPUView.

After loading the trace into GPUView, you can zoom into a given time interval that corresponds to an activity that you want to analyze by going to View > Goto and entering the Start and the Duration of your interval that you can get from the timeline in WPA. It’s also helpful to toggle VSync lines where the monitor refresh occurs by going to Options > Toggle VSync menu or pressing F8. Vertical blue lines will appear in the main view.

In the main view you can see when each graphics workload is queued up by the DWM and other applications in the Context CPU Queues, processed by the GPU in the GPU Hardware Queues and flipped to the screen in the Flip Queues.

You can also zoom into a single frame or a few frames. When DPCs or ISRs are executing on a thread and potentially delaying the graphics pipeline, blue crosshatches are displayed for DPCs and red ones for ISRs. You can find out what is handling these DPCs and ISRs by looking at a given time in WPA.

During the analysis iteration this assessment enables more extensive logging and performs analysis. As a result the assessment may discover some issues about long-running DPCs or ISRs. The metrics for the analysis iteration are not shown in the UI. Therefore when you follow a WPA in-depth analysis link and look at the timeline, it will be different than the timeline that corresponds to timing iteration metrics. Once in WPA, look at the Issue Details and Areas of Investigation pane in the Analysis view for more information. For more information about iterations, see Windows UI Performance.

During the analysis iteration this assessment enables more extensive logging and performs analysis. As a result the assessment may discover some issues about certain activities not meeting their goals. Follow the WPA in-depth analysis link and look at the Issue Details and Areas of Investigation pane in the Analysis view for more information. You can then look at other issues that affect the given activity.

During the analysis iteration this assessment enables more extensive logging and performs analysis. As a result the assessment might discover some issues about certain processes delaying an activity. Follow the WPA in-depth analysis link and look at the Issue Details and Areas of Investigation pane in the Analysis view for more information.

This issue is generated when some of the events expected by the assessment were not logged by the Windows UI components. It could occur when a VGA graphics driver is used or the assessment runs in a remote session. The recommendation is to re-run the assessment locally after you install a better graphics driver.

This error occurs when maintenance tasks have been registered on the PC but have not completed before the assessment run. This prevents the assessment from running, as maintenance tasks often impact assessment metrics.

To resolve this issue, do one of the following:

  1. Ensure that the computer is connected to a network and is running on AC power. Manually initiate pending maintenance tasks with the following command from an elevated prompt:

    rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks

  2. Disable regular and idle maintenance tasks, and stop all maintenance tasks before running the assessment.

See Also

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