[Mesa-dev] [RFC] [BRANCH] Floating point textures and rendering for Mesa, softpipe and llvmpipe

Luca Barbieri luca at luca-barbieri.com
Wed Sep 1 09:24:46 PDT 2010

> It's an impressive amount of work you did here. I'll comment only on the
> llvmpipe of the changes for now.

Thanks for your feedback!

> Admittedly, always using a floating point is not ideal. A better
> solution would be to choose a swizzled data type (unorm8, fixed point,
> float, etc) that matched the color buffer format.

Exactly, also because we'll want unnormalized formats and 64-bit formats too.

> But we've been seeing some results which point that the whole color
> buffer swizzling idea might be overrated: it increases memory bandwidth
> usage substantially,

It should decrease it due to a lower number of cache misses, thanks to
having a 2D instead of a 1D neighborhood of a pixel in the cache.

The only increase is that due to unswizzling for transfer or
presentation, but that should be much lower that the rendering load on
complex applications.

> and for many shaders where derivatives aren't
> necessary or can be determined from inputs there's no need to process
> 2x2 quads of pixels or even computations in SoA. That is, we might end
> up eliminating swizzling from llvmpipe altogether in the medium term.

Even with AoS, there is still the advantage in cache locality of an
AoS-but-swizzled layout.
The increased cost in address computation may well be much worse that
the cache benefits though, unless some smart way of doing it can be

I think vertex shaders might be the first place to look at for
switching to AoS, since they don't have derivatives, and the input is
much harder to keep in SoA form.

Were LLVM vertex shaders done as SoA just because the existing
llvmpipe code did that, or because it's actually better?

> So instead of going through a lot of work to support multiple swizzled
> types I'd prefer to keep the current simplistic (always 8bit unorm)
> swizzled type, and simply ignore errors in the clamping/precision loss
> when rendering to formats with higher precision dynamic range.
> In summary, apart of your fragment clamping changes, I'd prefer to keep
> the rest of llvmpipe unchanged (and innacurate) for the time being.

Note that this totally destroys the ability to use llvmpipe for high
dynamic range rendering, which fundamentally depends on the ability to
store unclamped and relatively high precision values.

Using llvmpipe is important because softpipe can be so slow on
advanced applications (e.g. the Unigine demos) to be unusable even for

A 48-bit or 64-bit integer fixed point format would mostly work
though, since it can perfectly represent fp16 values, but it is much
worse for everything except avoiding the use of a floating point

Perhaps a middle ground could be to have the option to choose the
swizzled tile format at compilation time.
Applying or not my patch will have this effect, but requires it to be
maintained, and it will obviously conflict a lot with other changes.

Also some of the work will be required anyway to support rendering
directly to textures of any format if one goes that route.

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