Futuremark Tightens RTC Validation Check Following Tecmundo and Rbuass Findings

Futuremark is improving the detection of all types of 'gaming' of their benchmark software. Two weeks ago we reported on the removal of a ton of Hall of Fame submissions due to LOD alteration and following the Rbuass' findings shared in our forum and reported by Tecmundo, Futuremark is tightening the detection of the benchmark timer. For those who are not familiar with the problem, here is a brief overview of the Windows 8 / 8.1 / 10 RTC problem.

On August 8, 2013, we published an article detailing issues concerning the use of timer in Windows 8. The use of the RTC timer impacts the veracity of benchmark results in such a way that decreasing the base clock frequency at run-time will cause a drift in timer. In short, a second no longer consists of 1000 milliseconds, but consists of 1000 milliseconds times the decrease in base clock frequency. For example, a decrease of 5% in frequency would increase the 'time in a second' by 5%. Because the system is unaware of this, the benchmark result will seem 5% better. For more information and supporting data, I suggest you to read through our original article.

In a response, Intel hot-fixed the XTU benchmark and uses the more accurate HPET since v4.2.0.8. Early September Futuremark announced a fix for the Windows 8 RTC bug though the Systeminfo service. From that moment, the HWBOT moderators accepted 3DMark benchmark submissions on the Windows 8 (8.1/10) operating system provided a supplementary verification link as proof that the RTC was not tampered with.

On November 20, Rbuass showed in a YouTube video that it's possible to validate 3DMark submissions even if the RTC had been affected. Based on data provided by Rbuass it seems that if one stayed within a 2% margin, a benchmark result would still validate correctly. As we have learned over the past couple of days, this is possible because the timer validation process Futuremark uses on their online database compares the data from the HPET and RTC timer and flags the result as invalid if the difference is too large. For competitive overclockers 2% is a large margin as even with a single GPU in Fire Strike Extreme it can easily mean a difference of a couple of hundred points. It's important to note that any RTC drift, where the OS time is not real time, means the benchmark score is NOT valid.

Christian Ney, Head of Moderating, got in touch with Futuremark to see if anything could be done about the situation. At the moment of writing, Futuremark has already tightened the margin of the RTC and HPET timer for new submissions, meaning any result with RTC drift will be invalidated. In addition, based on historical data Futuremark will also sort through the current Hall of Fame submissions and re-evaluate the validity of the scores.

As Futuremark (in)validates the top benchmark results, the HWBOT staff will proceed checking the Global rankings as well. More information to follow.


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