Introduction and updates from NVIDIA

Daniel Stone daniel at
Tue Mar 22 13:49:59 UTC 2016

Hi Miguel,

On 21 March 2016 at 16:28, Miguel Angel Vico <mvicomoya at> wrote:
> First of all, I'd like to introduce myself to the Wayland community: My
> name is Miguel A. Vico, and I've been working as a Software Engineer
> for NVIDIA for some time now, more specifically, in the Linux drivers
> team. Although I've never spoken before, I've been lately following the
> amazing work that you all have been doing here.


I'm sorry I don't have some better news for you, but Andy and Aaron
can tell you it's not personal: this has been going on for years.

> In order to make the Weston DRM compositor work with our drivers, we
> have used EGLDevice, EGLOutput, and EGLStream objects.

This is ... unfortunate. To echo what Daniel Vetter said, on the whole
these modesetting-in-EGL extensions are not something which have that
wide support, or even implementation. That being said, it's
interesting to have an implementation, because it has helped shape my
feelings and arguments a little, into something more concrete

> For those not familiar with this set of EGL structures, here I try to
> summarize the most important part of them, and how would they fit in
> the current Weston DRM compositor design:
>     EGLDevice provides means to enumerate native devices, and then
>     create an EGL display connection from them.

This is generically useful: we would like to extend
eglGetPlatformDisplay to take an attrib naming an EGLDevice, which we
could then use with platform_gbm (to select GPU and scanout device
separately, either for multi-GPU systems or also for SoCs with
discrete GPU/dispc setups) as well as platform_wayland and co.

>     Similarly, EGLOutput will provide means to access different
>     portions of display control hardware associated with an EGLDevice.
>     For instance, EGLOutputLayer represents a portion of display
>     control hardware that accepts an image as input and processes it
>     for presentation on a display device.

I still struggle to see the value of what is essentially an
abstraction over KMS, but oh well.

>     EGLStream implements a mechanism to communicate frame producers and
>     frame consumers. By attaching an EGLOutputLayer consumer to a
>     stream, a producer will be able to present frames on a display
>     device.

This is understating things quite a bit, I think. On the
Wayland-client side, it's a pretty big change from the EGLSurface
model, particularly if you use the default mailbox mode (see comments
on patch 4/7 as to how this breaks real-world setups, AFAICT). On the
Wayland-compositor side, it's two _huge_ changes.

Firstly, again looking at the case where a Wayland client is a stream
producer and the Wayland compositor is a consumer, we move from a
model where references to individual buffers are explicitly passed
through the Wayland protocol, to where those buffers merely carry a
reference to a stream. Again, as stated in the review of 4/7, that
looks like it has the potential to break some actual real-world cases,
and I have no idea how to solve it, other than banning mailbox mode,
which would seem to mostly defeat the point of Streams (more on that

Secondly, looking at the compositor-drm case, the use of the dumb
buffer to display undefined content as a dummy modeset really makes me
uneasy, again because both gl-renderer and compositor-drm are written
for explicit individual buffer management, rather than streams in +
streams out. I think the combination of the two pushes them long
beyond the point of readability, and I'd encourage you to look at
trying to split those files up, or at least the functions within them.
Attempting to keep both modes in there just looks like a maintenance
nightmare, especially when this streams implementation
(unsurprisingly) has to bypass almost the entire runtime (as opposed
to init-time) functionality of compositor-drm.

Also, I'm not quite sure how you're testing the compositor-as-consumer
mode: I can't seem to see any EGL extensions which allow you to
connect a Wayland surface as an EGLStream consumer. Do you have
something else unpublished that's being used here, or is this what the
libnvidia-egl-wayland library is for? Or do you just have clients
using EGLSurfaces as normal, which happen to be implemented internally
as EGLStreams? (Also, that the only way to test this is through
proprietary drivers implementing only-just-published extensions not
only makes me very sad, but hugely increases the potential for this to
be inadvertently broken.)

>     Thus, a compositor could produce frames and feed them to an
>     EGLOutputLayer through an EGLStream for presentation on a display
>     device.
>     In a similar way, by attaching a GLTexture consumer to a stream, a
>     producer (wayland client) could feed frames to a texture, which in
>     turn can be used by a compositor to prepare the final frame to be
>     presented.

Quick aside: this reminds me in many unfortunate ways of
GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap. tfp gave us the same 'capture stream of
stuff and make it appear in a texture' model as streams, whereas most
of the rest of the world (EGL, Vulkan WSI, Wayland, Android, ChromeOS,
etc) have all moved explicitly _away_ from that model to passing
references to individual buffers, this in many ways brings us back to

>     Whenever EGL_EXT_device_drm extension is present, EGLDevice can
>     be used to enumerate and access DRM KMS devices, and EGLOutputLayer
>     to enumerate and access DRM KMS crtcs and planes.

Again, the enumeration isn't so much used as bypassed. The original
enumeration is used, and all we do with the EGL objects is a) list all
of them, b) filter them to find the one we already have, and c)
perhaps replace their internal representation of the device with the
one we already have.

>     By using EGLStreams and attaching an EGLOutputLayer consumer
>     (representing a DRM KMS crtc or plane) to it, compositor-drm can
>     produce final composition frames and present them on a DRM device.

Arguably it's gl-renderer producing the frames, with compositor-drm
kind of acting as a fake consumer (EGL_NV_stream_attrib).

> Additionally, in order to allow wl_buffers to be bound to EGLStreams, we
> kludged eglQueryWaylandBufferWL(EGL_WAYLAND_BUFFER_WL) to return the
> stream file descriptor.

As said earlier, I don't think this is the right way to go, and have
other suggestions.

I'd like to look at the elephant in the room, which is why you're
using this in the first place (aside from general NVIDIA enthusiasm
for encapsulating everything within EGL Streams/Output/Device/etc,
dating back many years). Andy/Aaron, you've said that you found GBM to
be inadequate, and I'd like to find out explicitly how. Through a few
snippets of IRC and NVIDIA devtalk, so far I can see:

'We can't choose an optimal rendering configuration, because we don't
know how it's going to be used' - (almost completely) untrue. The FD
you pass to gbm_device_create is that of the KMS device, a gbm_surface
contains information as to how the plane (primary or overlay) will be
configured, and an EGLDisplay lets you tie the rendering and scanout
devices together. What more information do you need? It's true that we
don't have a way to select individual rendering devices at the moment,
but as said earlier, passing an EGLDevice as an attrib to
GetPlatformDisplay would resolve that, as you would have the render
device identified by the EGLDevice and the scanout device identified
by the gbm_device. At that point, you have the full pipeline and can
determine the optimal configuration.

'We don't know when to schedule decompression, because there's no
explicit barrier' - completely untrue. eglSwapBuffers is that barrier.
For example, in Freescale i.MX6, the Vivante GPU and Freescale IPU
(display controller) do not share a single common format between GPU
render targets and IPU scanout sources, so require a mandatory
detiling pass in between render and display. These work just fine with
gbm with that pass scheduled by eglSwapBuffers. This to me seems
completely explicit, unless there was something else you were meaning
... ?

'Width, height, pitch and format aren't enough information' - this is
true, but not necessarily relevant. I'm not sure what the source of
this actually is: is it the gbm_bo_get_*() APIs? If so, yes, they need
to be extended with a gbm_bo_get_modifier() call, which would allow
you to get the DRM format modifier to describe tiling/compression/et
al (as well as perhaps being extended to allow you to extract multiple
buffers/planes, e.g. to attach auxiliary compression buffers). If it's
not gbm, what actually is it? The only other place I can think of
(suggested by Pekka, I think) was the wl_drm protocol, which it should
be stressed is a) not required in any way by Wayland, b) not a
published/public protocol, c) not a stable protocol. wl_drm just
happens to be the way that Mesa shares buffers, just as wl_viv is how
Vivante's proprietary driver shares buffers, and mali_buffer_sharing
is how the Mali driver does it. Since the server side is bound by
eglBindWaylandDisplayWL and the client side is also only used through
EGL, there is _no_ requirement for you to also implement wl_drm. As it
is a hidden private Mesa protocol, there is also no requirement for
the protocol to remain stable.

'EGLStreams is the direction taken in Vulkan' - I would argue not. IMO
the explicit buffer management on the client side does not parallel
EGLStreams, and notably there is no equivalent consumer interface
offered on the server side, but instead the individual-buffer-driven
approach is taken. It's true that VK_WSI_display_swapchain does exist
and does match the EGLStreams model fairly closely, but also that it
does not have universal implementation: the Intel 'anv' Mesa-based
driver does not implement display_swapchain, instead having an
interface to export a VkImage as a dmabuf. It's true that the latter
is not optimal (it lacks the explicit targeting required to determine
the most optimal tiling/compression strategy), but OTOH it is
precedent for explicitly avoiding the
VK_WSI_display_swapchain/EGLStreams model for Vulkan on KMS, just as
GBM avoids it for EGL on KMS.

I think it's been good to have this series to push the discussion
further in more concrete terms, but unfortunately I have to say that
I'm even less convinced now than I have ever been. Sorry.


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