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UL Acquires Futuremark

by on03 November 2014 4577 times

Today is was announced that Futuremark would be “joining” Underwriters Laboratories. The standards group that most people in the US are familiar with his buying up the same benchmarking company that most of us have come to love and hate. According to both Futuremark and UL the acquisition is more like a partnership, it is just that one will fully own the other: “Today, we’re announcing a new partnership. One that will significantly strengthen Futuremark through increased investment in our people and products while protecting our independence and neutrality.”

While Futuremark is using the right language to make sure the gaming and benchmarking guys are ok, UL is taking a different tack “today announced the acquisition of Futuremark, the market leading provider of performance benchmarking software”. The end result is the same even if the way each company views it is not. The biggest question that I have been asked is: “why?” Again if you know UL they are primarily concerned with standards and making sure that components meet them for the consumer or commercial uses. They have never been interested in the type of performance testing that Futuremark represents. However, UL is not really all that interested in PC or GPU testing, instead they are interested in some of the tests that Futuremark has been playing with and also where they can go.

With the introduction of their (Futuremark’s) embedded benchmarks UL became very interested. Finally there was something that could be used to test the performance levels of embedded devices. Not just from an electrical standpoint, but the actual performance (and possibly security) of these products. It would be a giant leap forward for finally standardizing internet of things devices and the performance they should have before being dropped on the consumer or corporate market.

We talked about this recently when we were out at DEF CON. IoT devices currently have almost no standards for performance or security. Pretty much anyone that wants to can setup an IoT device with currently available hardware and access to a cloud service. It is very frightening when you think about just how open this new class of product is. By grabbing up Futuremark UL now has part of the puzzle, the performance testing so they can that rolling. Next up would be security standards, but that is typically not a UL function.

On the Futuremark end it looks like things will stay the same for at least the foreseeable future. Both Press Releases say that the Futuremark will keep going as they have been, but with more investments in their products and personnel. “With UL investing in our people and our products, we will be able to create more benchmarks with more features for more platforms. Our benchmarks will also benefit from UL’s labs, quality assurance, and marketing. But most important of all, we will continue making benchmarks with integrity within an organization that values neutrality as highly as we do.”

It looks like this is a win/win at least for now. The real test will be in a few months when the dust has settled down. We hope that the inclusion in UL will not change the Futuremark that we all are used to and that their commitment to the enthusiast community will go unchanged. I guess time will tell on that one.

You can read the PR from UL and from Futuremark on your own.

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Last modified on 03 November 2014
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