[Mesa-dev] Plumbing explicit synchronization through the Linux ecosystem

Jason Ekstrand jason at jlekstrand.net
Wed Mar 18 02:08:36 UTC 2020

On Tue, Mar 17, 2020 at 7:16 PM Jacob Lifshay <programmerjake at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 17, 2020 at 11:14 AM Lucas Stach <dev at lynxeye.de> wrote:
> >
> > Am Dienstag, den 17.03.2020, 10:59 -0700 schrieb Jacob Lifshay:
> > > I think I found a userspace-accessible way to create sync_files and
> > > dma_fences that would fulfill the requirements:
> > > https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/drivers/dma-buf/sw_sync.c
> > >
> > > I'm just not sure if that's a good interface to use, since it appears
> > > to be designed only for debugging. Will have to check for additional
> > > requirements of signalling an error when the process that created the
> > > fence is killed.

It is expressly only for debugging and testing.  Exposing such an API
to userspace would break the finite time guarantees that are relied
upon to keep sync_file a secure API.

> > Something like that can certainly be lifted for general use if it makes
> > sense. But then with a software renderer I don't really see how fences
> > help you at all. With a software renderer you know exactly when the
> > frame is finished and you can just defer pushing it over to the next
> > pipeline element until that time. You won't gain any parallelism by
> > using fences as the CPU is busy doing the rendering and will not run
> > other stuff concurrently, right?
> There definitely may be other hardware and/or processes that can
> process some stuff concurrently with the main application, such as the
> compositor and or video encoding processes (for video capture).
> Additionally, from what I understand, sync_file is the standard way to
> export and import explicit synchronization between processes and
> between drivers on Linux, so it seems like a good idea to support it
> from an interoperability standpoint even if it turns out that there
> aren't any scheduling/timing benefits.

There are different ways that one can handle interoperability,
however.  One way is to try and make the software rasterizer look as
much like a GPU as possible:  lots of threads to make things as
asynchronous as possible, "real" implementations of semaphores and
fences, etc.  Another is to let a SW rasterizer be a SW rasterizer: do
everything immediately, thread only so you can exercise all the CPU
cores, and minimally implement semaphores and fences well enough to
maintain compatibility.  If you take the first approach, then we have
to solve all these problems with letting userspace create unsignaled
sync_files which it will signal later and figure out how to make it
safe.  If you take the second approach, you'll only ever have to
return already signaled sync_files and there's no problem with the
sync_file finite time guarantees.


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