[pulseaudio-discuss] [PATCH 07/13] loopback: Refactor latency initialization

Georg Chini georg at chini.tk
Wed Nov 25 07:05:27 PST 2015

On 25.11.2015 09:00, Georg Chini wrote:
> On 25.11.2015 01:14, Tanu Kaskinen wrote:
>> On Tue, 2015-11-24 at 08:21 +0100, Georg Chini wrote:
>>> On 24.11.2015 03:50, Tanu Kaskinen wrote:
>>>> On Sun, 2015-11-22 at 13:21 +0100, Georg Chini wrote:
>>>>> On 22.11.2015 00:27, Tanu Kaskinen wrote:
>>>>>> On Sat, 2015-11-21 at 19:42 +0100, Georg Chini wrote: It's 
>>>>>> probably not a bug. Things happen in the alsa IO thread loops in
>>>>>> this order:
>>>>>> 1: fill buffer (sink) / empty buffer (source)
>>>>>> 2: process events, such as "get latency" messages
>>>>>> 3: sleep
>>>>>> 4: goto 1
>>>>>> So when a "get latency" message is sent, alsa sinks refill the 
>>>>>> buffer
>>>>>> before processing the message, and sources push out any currently
>>>>>> buffered audio. There are checks, though, that prevent this from
>>>>>> happening if the sink buffer is already more than half full, or 
>>>>>> if the
>>>>>> source buffer is less than half full.
>>>>>>>>> All calculations assume that when I configure source and sink
>>>>>>>>> latency to 1/3 of the requested latency each, I'll end up with
>>>>>>>>> having about 1/3 of the latency in source and sink together.
>>>>>>>>> I know this is strange but so far I have not seen a case where
>>>>>>>>> this assumption fails.
>>>>>>>> It doesn't sound strange to me, because if you randomly sample the
>>>>>>>> buffer fill level of a sink or a source, on average it will be 
>>>>>>>> 50% full
>>>>>>>> (assuming that refills happen when the buffer gets empty, which is
>>>>>>>> approximately true when using timer-based scheduling). On average,
>>>>>>>> then, the sum of the sink and source latencies will be half of 
>>>>>>>> the sum
>>>>>>>> of the configured latencies.
>>>>>>> Should then the reported latency not be half of the configured?
>>>>>>> This is not the case, at least on the sink side.
>>>>>> See above. In about 50% of cases the measured sink latency will be
>>>>>> about 100% of the configured latency, and in the other 50% cases the
>>>>>> average will be 75%. For sources, the measured latency will be 0% in
>>>>>> half of the cases and on average 25% for the other half of the 
>>>>>> cases.
>>>>>> At lower latencies the "do nothing" check will trigger less often 
>>>>>> due
>>>>>> to a constant-sized safety margin, so the sink latencies will be 
>>>>>> even
>>>>>> more skewed towards 100% and source latencies towards 0%.
> OK, understood. Strange that you are talking of 75% and 25%
> average buffer fills. Doesn't that give a hint towards the connection
> between sink latency and buffer_latency?
> I believe I found something in the sink or alsa code back in February
> which at least supported my choice of the 0.75, but I have to admit
> that I can't find it anymore.
Lets take the case I mentioned in my last mail. I have requested
20 ms for the sink/source latency and 5 ms for the memblockq. The
20 ms cannot be satisfied, I get 25 ms as sink/source latency when
I try to configure it (USB device).
For the loopback code it means that the target latency is not what
I specified on the command line but the average sum of source and
sink latency + buffer_latency. In the case it went for 27.5 ms, so
the average reported source/sink latency was 22.5 ms This is consistent
with what you say above, expected average would be 21.875. Our starting
point is this one:

Loopback overall latency is 20,48 ms + 7,02 ms + 0,07 ms = 27,46 ms

at some point, we will have 25 ms in the sink and the buffer is down
to 2.5 ms. If we now assume that audio is transferred in chunks of 5 ms
(the default-fragment-size) it might be possible that at the point in
time when the sink requests the next chunk, the source has not delivered
it yet. So you will see an underrun because the 5ms request from the sink
cannot be satisfied.
So how much audio do we need in the buffer, so that this never happens?
At least one default-fragment-size plus some safety margin - which is what
I propose for batch devices.
And indeed, if I try the same with buffer_latency=7ms instead of 5 ms, it
works without underruns. 6 ms is not yet enough, I assume there is some
time that the data spends in transit. I believe the reasoning will be 
for timer-based scheduling.
Please correct me, if my thinking is completely wrong.

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