Windows 8: The Times They Are a-Changin'

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Over the weekend HWBot.org uncovered a critical flaw with the time keeping method of Windows 8.

Due to a problem with the Windows 8 Real Time Clock (RTC) service, when changes are made to system frequency by software, the internal clock in Windows 8 begins to skew. The greater the change in frequency, the greater the clock skew changes. Frequency changes in BIOS do not have any impact, this only affects Windows 8 if using popular manufacturer tools like Asus TurboV, MSI Control Center, or Gigabyte Easytune – tools designed to give users the ability to change clock speeds on the fly within the OS.

Why does this happen and when?

The time shift can be verified by using an external timer such as the one included on your smartphone. HWBot.org recorded a demonstration of this which shows the windows clock counting seconds differently than the smart phone as time elapses:

The reason for the change is reported/y due to the way the RTC clock functions differently in Windows 8, a change Microsoft made in the OS in the desire for greater compatibility on platforms which may lack the hardware our PCs include for keeping accurate time on their own. Within the Windows 8 boot process, a calculation is done which is used as a reference for the Windows clock, and that calculation is based off of the current frequency the PC is running at… When that frequency is changed by software after Windows has loaded, the reference calculation is no longer valid.

HWBot.org hasn’t uncovered all the answers yet, but they immediately responded by banning Windows 8 from being used for new submissions to their rankings. A smart move, in that any PC Benchmark result achieved with Windows 8 cannot be verified if genuine by their moderators or anyone else for that matter. This affects every benchmark on Windows 8, as all benchmarks currently depend on an accurate RTC clock in order to calculate the amount of work performed in a given amount of time.

Are we getting faster or slower?

Testing so far has demonstrated that overclocking the CPU will cause Windows to count seconds faster, while downclocking the CPU will cause Windows to count seconds slower. For example, because Windows counts seconds slower after downclocking and benchmarks depend on Windows for its time measurement, the benchmark then believes it did 10 seconds worth of work when in real time it actually did 12 seconds worth. In that way, downclocking by software in Windows 8 can result in a higher benchmark score being reported. The inverse is true for overclocking.

Further testing is ongoing at this time to determine if all platforms are affected – with the nature of the problem this would appear to be the case, but initial testing has given the impression that some AMD APU based platforms may not be affected. Ongoing work will determine the breadth of the issue, as well as how it will be addressed within the PC enthusiast community which loves benchmarking the most.

It’s speculated that the issue may be patched in a future update of Windows 8, however this issue is only now being discovered so there will likely be a considerable wait for a fix. The question remains once a fix is available, how will the community determine if scores were obtained on valid patched versions of Windows 8?

I.M.O.G.

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Discussion
  1. MetalRacer
    Well that sucks, I was getting ready to take Win 8 32bit for a spin.
    I really hope they don't pull my other submissions.:cry:

    They will.
    suspicious, that would include all of my scores if Pieter has any say in it. hehe, Im in for a ride even though I have no submissions with win8
    I was going to say. If it's up to Pieter's discretion... :popcorn:
    I know he's a good guy, but most issues over at HWbot could be handled in a better way. Namely the rules issues, issues with particular users, and upgrades to the servers and coding of the site. But I don't work in that field, so I can't really complain too much. It is a free service. :shrug:
    I have seen Pieter's discretion up close and personal. And dont much care for it, or see it as beneficial- for the most part anyway.
    its= communism or take a hike.
    The day he ran October out of benching he lost every ounce of credibility with me. So much so that I didnt post there for quite some time. I just truly enjoy the guys on this team, and that is what keeps me working. Which by the way, also benefits the "powers that be" at the bot.
    Make no mistake, there is money being made at the bot as well. I am sure there is plenty of adverts there
    this is the only game I have ever seen that the refs make the rules and enforce the rules and play the game with the locals as well. wow, is all I can think
    Mr.Scott
    Think there's favoritism? :rolleyes: lol

    Absolutely not! It's the fairest of the fair! I'm not at all bitter at the treatment dejo/daughter got while at the same time something like 6-8 of the top 10 i7 950 (I think it was) WPrime scores were from team greece within 40mhz of each other.
    Oh well. It's also the only game in town.
    It's a sad day when a man's daughter can't honestly love something for what it is without taking frack for it. :(
    If I had any kind of coding skills, I would pull the raw data for hardware and benchmarks from the HWbot API and run my own site. But alas, of those I have none.
    As the result of weekend-time research, the HWBOT staff has decided to invalidate all benchmark records established with the Windows8 operating system. Due to severe validity problems with the Windows8 real time clock ("RTC"), benchmarks results achieved with Windows8 cannot be trusted. The main problem lies with the RTC being affected when over- or underclocking under the operating system. The operating system uses the RTC as reference clock, and benchmarks use it to reference (benchmark) time.
    The above is from the HWBOT home page ( http://hwbot.org/ ) . Interestingly enough the link to more info, only has user comments and NOT the orginal post from HWBOT.
    MetalRacer
    Well that sucks, I was getting ready to take Win 8 32bit for a spin.
    I really hope they don't pull my other submissions.:cry:

    As sad as it is, Win8 only looked like it was better than Win7 because of the clock issue. We got all excited. :rain:
    I just reran every benchmark on windows 7 and got within a margin of error of my submissions under windows 8 with the exception of firestorm extreme which was lower on windows 7. This sounds like a witch hunt.
    Edit: Also wouldn't it make more sense to simply add a subcategory for operating system and make it required for all submissions? Silly folk...
    Second edit: I've written code to import info from hwbot api. Now I have to decide whether it's worth using it.