Earlier this week, in something of an unexpected move, UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and Futuremark announced that UL had acquired the benchmarking company, signaling their expansion into the software development industry and benchmarking services. This might seem a bit of an odd fit at first, as UL is a large corporation that's more than a century old and they have a history of providing "safety science" – they certify, validate, test, inspect, audit, and advise consumers and businesses in matters of safety. Reading further into the announcement however clarifies things:

"Embedded software is now an important part of product design. With an increased focus on mobility, we see more and more products being connected, making the Internet of Things a reality. Consequently, software quality is a significant driver of product safety and performance; and we believe that benchmarking is an important way to help our customers to improve the performance of their products. This acquisition provides [UL] with an opportunity to build a new business line in testing a wide variety of technological devices so they offer the performance, safety and privacy that consumers expect."

In other words, Futuremark's expertise in building benchmarking and testing software, including perhaps most notably the recent release of 3DMark and PCMark for Android, will help UL in testing and certifying a variety of modern devices. The announcement goes on to note that UL plans for additional investments into Futuremark's product development, increasing the range and types of benchmarks that are offered.

For their part, Futuremark obviously gets much deeper corporate funding, and UL is a global company with many resources and contacts. Futuremark's current staff of 39 employees will all remain, including the CEO Jukka Mäkinen. UL by comparison already has over 10,000 employees located around the world. Details of the amount of the acquisition are not known, but UL notes that both Futuremark and UL have a history of neutrality and independence that they intend to continue, and at present UL will continue to support Futuremark's distribution of benchmarking software for PCs and mobile devices.

Source: Futuremark (via TechReport)

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  • nathanddrews - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Good and logical move, I think. It will add to the reputation of Futuremark benchmarks and perhaps allow for more controlled testing of both the software and hardware. I wonder if we would some day see a UL performance rating on the box every CPU and GPU sold?

    I'm sure conspiracy nuts will start in about how this is all part of some 9/11, illuminati scheme. #ULuminati
  • designerfx - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Many AMD and Nvidia graphics cards are already certified by UL, but not specifically for performance - it's for soem other category of products. I don't know if that means for electrical safety or something else, but they are certified. This includes everything from TV tuners to Radeons, Tegras, 3D cards and tablet GPU's.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    I think UL might be looking at things like automotive devices as well, where accuracy and performance could have an impact on safety, e.g. your GPS doesn't update properly because it's too slow, giving you incorrect directions. I'm very interested in seeing what sort of additional benchmarks we get from Futuremark going forward. :-)
  • Impulses - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    How does that tie into Futuremark tho? Most of that stuff you mention doesn't run Android (yet), unless Futuremark has been testing all sorts of embedded devices that I'm not aware of...

    Seems like a very odd marriage to me, most of the things I'd like to see an independent by-the-numbers outfit testing on devices like phones aren't things that Futuremark really benches...

    I'm alluding to the sorta test that a scant few resources like Anandtech have provided over the years, e.g. battery life, radio performance, read/write performance etc.

    Now, if they're gonna move Futuremark in that direction, that'd be absolutely wonderful... I'd shit unicorns if I could avoid reading one more phone/tablet review that sums up battery life as "it'll get you thru a day".
  • Houdani - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    How bizzarre. UL exists to ensure that products meet minimum safety levels such that those products do not create a risk of damage to property or person. UL exists because insurance companies require certain products to be tested at a regulatory agency.

    I don't see any safety hazards being solved with this purchase. So their gameplan must be simply to branch into optional test services (as opposed to regulated/mandatory testing) in order to somehow boost their "not for profit" income stream.
  • Mikemk - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    To be honest, I've never heard of UL.
  • Impulses - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure if they certify non US products... I imagine you don't live in the US, otherwise you would've had to have seen the UL label on just about anything electrical.
  • sr1030nx - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    They have a branch up in Canada called ULC, does the same safety stuff.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, November 8, 2014 - link

    They seem to have offices all over the world, German wiki says they have one headquarter and 2 offices in Germany. But I have never heard of them here. I guess our local TÜV is more widespread, but maybe UL Europe is more important for B2B stuff? I don't know. :D
  • *kjm - Saturday, November 8, 2014 - link

    As others have said they are all over the world.... Even a lot of electronics made in Germany ect. are sold in the U.S. thus the need for them having global offices.

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