[Pixman] [PATCH 2/3] Optimize BILINEAR filter to NEAREST for identity transforms

Soeren Sandmann sandmann at cs.au.dk
Thu May 26 07:12:10 PDT 2011

Siarhei Siamashka <siarhei.siamashka at gmail.com> writes:

>> The problem for the analyze_extents() code is that if it chooses to
>> provide the COVER flag, then some code might read common.filter and try
>> to read outside the image to do bilinear filtering. But without COVER,
>> the standard fast paths won't run.
>> It seems to me that the cause of the problem is that the meaning of
>> COVER depends on what the filter is: it means "there is enough space
>> around the sample area for the chosen filter", which then becomes wrong
>> when doing filter reductions.
> The meaning of COVER flag does not become wrong after doing filter
> reduction, it's the "common.filter" variable which gets kind of wrong.
> This "common.filter" value means "a filter value set by the user
> application via pixman_image_set_filter() call". When no filter
> reductions are done, it is also happens to be valid in any part of
> code.

Yes, we do in all cases need to preserve the state that the user
set. This is in fact one of the key properties of the flags: they
contain a 'summary' of the user set state, but they are not in
themselves a full description of the image. The full description is
stored elsewhere in the image struct.

> A subjective advantage is that it also gets rid of a somewhat
> illogical NO_CONVOLUTION_FILTER flag. This flag does not cause any
> problems itself, but just distracts attention when looking at the
> printout of fast path flags.

The flags with "NO" in their names are a bit confusing in that they lead
to double negatives, but they are needed, because fast paths need to say
"I _can't_ deal with property X, so I'll set the FAST_PATH_NO_X
flag". This is a key part of how the flags work. As you wrote yourself:

    The flags in pixman are implemented in such a way that they all
    have some kind of "positive" meaning, indicating that the
    operation is going to be more simple than the general case in one
    way or another. Having more flags set on the initial analysis
    stage is always good. Forgetting to set some of the flags is safe
    in the sense that it will not make pixman misbehave, pixman will
    just run slower because of not taking some fast paths.

    Each fast path function has a mask with flags (provided separately
    for source, mask and destination), with each bit set there telling
    something like "I can't handle case X" (or with alternative
    interpretation "I can't handle cases other than Y"). Fast path
    functions with many flags set in their description are allowed to
    cut more corners and run a lot faster because of this.

    When asked to do something via pixman_image_composite() function
    call, pixman first calculates the flags for the current operation
    (again, separately for the source, mask and destination
    images). Setting each bit is kind of like telling to the the rest
    of the code: "You are allowed not to care about case X".

  [ http://www.mail-archive.com/pixman@lists.freedesktop.org/msg00569.html ]

But this breaks down if the compositing code starts *relying* on the
flags being set, for example to know what the filter is; it will no
longer be the case that "Forgetting to set some of the flags is safe in
the sense that it will not make pixman misbehave, pixman will just run
slower because of not taking some fast paths".

This is an important rule to preserve, because it allows people to work
on the flag computing code without knowing the details of the
compositing code, and it allows people to write a new compositing
routine or implementation without knowing that the flags even exist.

When such general rules break down is when the code base becomes
incomprehensible and only understandable to people who are intimately
familiar with it.

> Regarding the potential risk of using "common.filter" accidentally in
>a wrong way, I think that this variable can be just renamed and get an
>unattractive discouraging name, maybe something like
>"common.filter_before_optimization". Also for additional safety and
>debugging purposes, maybe even valgrind client requests could be used
>to mark this variable as unaccessible at the wrong time in a special
>debug configuration, but that could be an overkill.

Having to rename a basic property of images to prevent other code from
reading it, it is a symptom of a misdesign taking place. It adds a
strong coupling between the compositing code and the flag computing code
that wasn't there before.

>> So maybe a solution would be to provide two separate flags:
>>        COVER_NEAREST:  "there is enough space for a nearest filter"
>>        COVER_BILINEAR: "there is enough space for a bilinear filter"
>> These are unambiguous and because either there is enough space for a
>> bilinear filter, or there isn't, they can be set independently of what
>> the filter actually is.
> Sure, it's one of the multiple possible options. But I think that
> evaluating and potentially setting both of these flags may introduce a
> bit more overhead on the common code path.

Could be, but not much difference in either case. It could also go the
other way because the "switch (image->common.filter)" might no longer be

> Also it still may be a good idea to divide responsibilities between
> different parts of the library, optimize the filter early enough and
> let the rest of code not to deal with extra flags and just forget that
> this filter reduction optimization even happened. After all, cairo
> already does filter reduction optimization itself, and nobody
> complained about the original filter information not reaching pixman
> fast path functions ;)

Division of responsibilities is precisely why the COVER_* flags are
better. The early code can simply set these flags if they are valid, and
it can also set *both* FILTER_NEAREST and FILTER_BILINEAR flags in the
case where a bilinear filter reduces to nearest. This is conceptually
much cleaner because it says to the compositing code:

- this image may be treated as if it is *either* bilinear filtered *or*
  nearest filtered,

which is exactly what is going on. Similarly, the COVER_* flags mean: 

- the source area is such that you can ignore the repeat mode, even if
  you need to sample for a bilinear/nearest filter

The compositing code can then do whatever it wants with this
information, including ignore it.


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