Plumbing explicit synchronization through the Linux ecosystem

Jason Ekstrand jason at
Mon Mar 16 16:04:12 UTC 2020

On Mon, Mar 16, 2020 at 10:33 AM Tomek Bury <tomek.bury at> wrote:
> > GL and GLES are not relevant. What is relevant is EGL, which defines
> > interfaces to make things work on the native platform.
> Yes and no. This is what EGL spec says about sharing a texture between contexts:
> "OpenGL and OpenGL ES makes no attempt to synchronize access to
> texture objects. If a texture object is bound to more than one
> context, then it is up to the programmer to ensure that the contents
> of the object are not being changed via one context while another
> context is using the texture object for rendering. The results of
> changing a texture object while another context is using it are
> undefined."
> There are similar statements with regards to the lack of
> synchronisation guarantees for EGL images or between GL and native
> rendering, etc. But the main thing here is that EGL and Vulkan differ
> significantly. The eglSwapBuffers() is expected to post an unspecified
> "back buffer" to the display system using some internal driver magic.
> EGL driver is then expected to obtain another back buffer at some
> unspecified point in the future. Vulkan on the other hand is very
> specific and explicit. The vkQueuePresentKHR() is expected to post a
> specific vkImage with an explicit set of set of semaphores. Another
> image is obtained through vkAcquireNextImageKHR() and it's the
> application's decision whether it wants a fence, a semaphore, both or
> none with the acquired buffer. The implicit synchronisation doesn't
> mix well with Vulkan drivers and requires a lot of extra plumbing  in
> the WSI code.

Yes, and that (the Vulkan issues in particular) is what I'm trying to
fix. :-)  (among other things...)  Assuming the kernel patch I linked
to, your usermode driver could stuff fences in the dma-buf without
having that be part of your kernel driver.  This assumes, of course,
that your kernel driver supports sync_file.

> > If you are using EGL_WL_bind_wayland_display, then one of the things
> > it is explicitly allowed/expected to do is to create a Wayland
> > protocol interface between client and compositor, which can be used to
> > pass buffer handles and metadata in a platform-specific way. Adding
> > synchronisation is also possible.
> Only one-way synchronisation is possible with this mechanism. There's
> a standard protocol for recycling buffers - wl_buffer_release() so
> buffer hand-over from the compositor to client remains unsynchronised
> - see below.
> > > The most troublesome part was Wayland buffer release mechanism, as it only involves a CPU signalling over Wayland IPC, without any 3D driver involvement. The choices were: explicit synchronisation extension or a buffer copy in the compositor (i.e. compositor textures from the copy, so the client can re-write the original), or some implicit synchronisation in kernel space (but that wasn't an option in Broadcom driver).
> >
> > You can add your own explicit synchronisation extension.
> I could but that requires implementing in in the driver and in a
> number of compositors, therefore a standard extension
> zwp_linux_explicit_synchronization_v1 is much better choice here than
> a custom one.

I think you may be missing what Daniel is saying.  Wayland allows you
to do basically anything you want within your client and server-side
EGL implementations.  That could include the server-side EGL sending
an event with a fence every single time a flush operation happens in
the server-side GL/GLES implementation. (Could be glFlush, glFinish,
eglSwapBuffers, or other things).  Since wayland protocol events are
ordered, the client-side EGL implementation would get the most recent
flush event before it got the wl_buffer::release.  I fully agree that
it's rather cumbersome though.

> > In every cross-process and cross-subsystem usecase, synchronisation is
> > obviously required. The two options for this are to implement kernel
> > support for implicit synchronisation (as everyone else has done),
> That would require major changes in driver architecture or a 2nd
> mechanisms doing the same thing but in kernel space - both are
> non-starters.
> > or implement generic support for explicit synchronisation (as we have
> > been working on with implementations inside Weston and Exosphere at
> > least),
> The zwp_linux_explicit_synchronization_v1 is a good step forward. I'm
> using this extension as a main synchronisation mechanism in EGL and
> Vulkan driver whenever available. I remember that Gustavo Padovan was
> working on explicit sync support in the display system some time ago.
> I hope it got merged into kernel by now, but I don't know to what
> extend it's actually being used.

It is supported by KMS/atomic.  Legacy KMS, however, does not support it.

> > or implement private support for explicit synchronisation,
> If everything else fails, that would be the last resort scenario, but
> far from ideal and very costly in terms of implementation and
> maintenance as it would require maintaining custom patches for various
> 3rd party components or littering them with multiple custom explicit
> synchronisation schemes.

If you want to see explicit synchronization everywhere, I would very
much like to see more developers driving its adoption.  I implemented
support in the Intel Vulkan driver last week:

Hopefully, that will provide some motivation for other compositors
(kwin, gnome-shell, etc.) because they now have a real user of it in
an upstream driver for a major desktop platform and not just a few
weston examples.  However, someone is going to have to drive the
actual development in those compositors.  I'd be very happy if more
people got involved, :-)


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