Performance improvement to vga arbitration

Tiago Vignatti tiago.vignatti at
Fri Jun 11 04:56:37 PDT 2010


Thanks for bring up this idea to the community. I'm cc-ing Benjamin and nVidia
guys who were recently discussing more in-depth improvements on this area (I'm
not exactly working on it; just doing some fixes here and there). Anyway, I'll
post some comments bellow.

On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 08:02:43AM +0200, ext Henry Zhao wrote:
> It appears  that after session is up,  in most cases,  drivers only do 
> non-legacy accesses.
> Non-legacy accesses do not need to block each other. Blocking 
> arbitration is needed
> mostly for session initialization and exiting.

there's also VT switching case (or this is what you wanted to say with
"session exiting"?). Anyway, what you said here is very true: we don't want
VGA decoding enabled in graphics mode. See the patch next...

> To improve performance, we need to treat
> differently to legacy and non-legacy accesses, and allow non-legacy 
> accesses to proceed
> concurrently among devices without blocking each other. Non-legacy 
> accesses is assumed
> to be the default for operating functions after initialization.

... over here:

At this point on the X server, we already POSTed all cards and we could be
optimistic, letting the drivers say when we actually need VGA legacy. Right
now, as you said, we're assuming legacy access as default whenever the system
has more than one card, not driven by DRI (DRI and VGA legacy conflict with
the current design. Dave preferred to let this away).

> In case 
> legacy accesses are
> necessary for some of them, drivers can redefine them per function group 
> bases.
> Here are some details:
> (1) New lock for non-legacy access
>   Define another lock, vgadev->locks2 (locks2), for non-legacy access 
> locking
>   in addition to vgadev->locks (locks1), currently used for legacy access
>   locking.
>   Non-legacy access requests from a device that does not have legacy access
>   decoding ability should always be honored without a need of acquiring 
> a lock.
>   Non-legacy access requests from a device that has legacy access decoding
>   ability needs to acquire locks2 before proceeding.
>   Request for locks2 is blocked only when some other device already has 
> locks1
>   (on the same resources).  Request for locks1 is blocked when some 
> other device
>   already has locks1 or locks2 (on the same resource). This means 
> request for
>   locks2 should not be blocked just because some other device already 
> has locks2
>   (on the same resources).

I'm not that sure we need this new lock. However I'm worried that we might
do have the case you mentioned here: "Request for locks2 is blocked only when
some other device already has locks1 (on the same resources)".

Dave? Ben?

>   Currently we have 4 defines for resource request:
>   but only two strings for them, "io" and "mem". Add "IO" and "MEM" for non-
>   legacy accesses.

yeah, last I seen this flags were underused.

> (2) Function group based resource request
>   Need to distinguish between decoding ability and decoding request 
> (resource
>   request). Decoding ability is still maintained in struct vga_device of 
> kernel
>   driver with
>         unsigned int decodes;
>   and a userland copy in dev->vgaarb_rsrc.
>   Currently all lock/unlocking mechanism uses resource requests from
>   dev->vgaarb_rsrc, which is actually decoding ability. In new design 
> however,
>   this is only the case for xf86VGAarbiterLock() and 
> xf86VGAarbiterUnlock(), run
>   during session initialization and exiting. During normal run, resource 
> request
>   is determined by a resource mask associated with each function.
>   Wrapping function are grouped into MAX_VGAARB_OPS_MASK number of
>   groups with resource masks assigned to each of them. The default 
> setting of mask is
>   VGA_RSRC_NORMAL_IO|VGA_RSRC_NORMAL_MEM, meaning non-legacy
>   access, but drivers can redefine any of them. In an extreme if a 
> driver redefines all
>   masks to
>   we are returning to old arbitration algorithm.


BTW, our current decoding interface is broken. Well, the kernel side is broken
either, moving the ownership of decoding to another random card when the given
one owning is stop to decode. I have a hack to fix this for my system:

Also, I posted two patches to fix the userspace decoding interface on the
mailing list some days ago. If you're carrying about remove cards from
arbitration and stop decoding then definitely you'll want to take a look on

> (3) Other changes
>   * pci_device_vgaarb_set_target() is heavily called. Currently it 
> involves two
>     syscalls.  These calls can be saved if the device in question is the 
> same as
>     in the previous call (recorded in pci_sys->vga_target). This contributes
>     to major performance improvement.


>   * OpenConsole()/CloseConsole() need to be protected by lock and unlock 
> as they
>     may have vga register accesses. Further, 
> OpenConsole()/CloseConsole() is run
>     only on a session with primary device.


> I am posting the design idea for comments.
> (This has been implemented and tested on both Linux and Solaris  systems.)

So do you have patches already? If so, please post on the mailing lists so we
can take a look.

Thank you,


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