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How Chrome uses IOSurfaces:


Q. What are the buffering semantics of IOSurfaces? Double-buffered? Single-buffered? Is there locking going on internally to make them appear double-buffered?

A. Semantically single-buffered.

Basically, rendering correctness is determined just by how the command buffers are serialized to the GPU.

This means if the browser process manages to squeeze in a command buffer which draws the IOSurface to the screen in between the GPU process's command buffers filling the IOSurface, we could possibly see an incomplete rendered frame.

Q. Is it possible to change these semantics with dictionary properties during IOSurfaceCreate?

A. No.

Q. Should Chrome double-buffer its IOSurfaces (i.e., avoid rendering into one while concurrently sampling from it in another process)? Would doing so avoid any driver instability (window server lockups, kernel panics) we have seen on various OS X hardware and software configurations? I note that both Firefox and the Qt WebKit port are double-buffering their IOSurfaces.

A. Double-buffering probably would only improve the "race" between rendering to and from the IOSurface.

Q. When are IOSurfaces released? If two processes both release their IOSurfaceRefs, is the IOSurface reclaimed immediately? In a deferred fashion?

A. Should go away immediately. Subject to outstanding live texture objects that reference that IOSurface.

It would be possible to re-look up the IOSurface in this case. (* Maybe this is the reason Vangelis was able to do this in his testing. *)

You have to call glDeleteTexture, or delete the OpenGL context, to ensure the IOSurface bound to the texture is gone.

Can run: ioreg -n IOSurfaceRoot -w 0

Has very verbose output, but it could be parsed.

A good indicator that we aren't leaking IOSurfaces is that the IOSurface IDs don't increase monotonically. If they are increasing, it's an indication something is leaking somewhere.

Q. At what point does the IOSurface allocation fail? We had a leak at one point, and at some point IOSurface allocation would fail.

A. You could exhaust the kernel's address space. Otherwise, there's currently no hard-coded limit.

When you create an IOSurface, it doesn't allocate anything except system memory. You're not really using those pages right off the bat.

Until you actually create a texture object and use it with a particular GPU, it doesn't allocate VRAM, either.

You need to worry about texture lifetimes across processes; the IOSurface can get read back into system memory if the texture is deleted but the IOSurface is stil alive!

Whenever the last texture reference is torn down, you're probably paying the cost of paging the VRAM back to system memory before the IOSurface is deallocated.

There is a way to tell IOSurface to auto-purge if you're willing to track a system-wide use count. Any time the use count goes to 0, purge the VRAM and system memory. Requires more cross-process lifetime management.

Q. Is fragmentation something we should worry about?

A. Not really. Nothing you can do at the user level about it.

In general, the working set of the GPU will be much larger than the few IOSurfaces you allocate. But: Chrome is allocating up to 8 IOSurfaces per window...

Q. In 10.7, there appear to be new APIs that indicate whether the IOSurface is in use.

A. Each process referencing an IOSurface can increment and decrement its use count. When the process's use count goes from 0 to 1, traps into the kernel to reference the IOSurface at the system level.

IOSurfaceIsInUse() is the only call that should be used to determine usage -- according to IOSurfaceIncrementUseCount / IOSurfaceDecrementUseCount. You can't query how many system-level references exist for a given IOSurface.

In a system that's quiescent, (i.e., running just the Finder, and in particular not Safari), should be able to make some guarantees that IOSurfaces are all released.

Could potentially use ioreg in conjunction with "wc -l" on a system with a known configuration (i.e., a GPU bot) to assert that there are no leaked IOSurfaces.

One thing you do have to worry about: IOSurface doesn't let you get past any of the limitations of the GPU. For example, render size limits. Can only render to a surface so big. There is the fragmentation issue. The IOSurface does have to be allocated contiguously.

Q. We're not using IOSurfaceAlignProperty.

A. Not necessary. Implementation will pick an aligned value for e.g. the row bytes if the value is not specified.

Q. What kind of user errors can lead to IOSurface leaks? For example, if you release the IOSurface but still have an OpenGL texture linked to the IOSurface, and don't delete the OpenGL texture, the IOSurface still appears to be valid.

A. Already answered above.

Q. Are IOSurfaces more expensive resources to allocate than OpenGL textures (accessible only to one process)? If so, how much more expensive?

A. No. They might not be as performant -- due to how the GPU memory is allocated -- but they're basically as cheap as textures.

Q. During CGLTexImageIOSurface2D call: you can change how the memory as accessed -- but can you change how much of the IOSurface you use?

A. Theoretically you could pick a smaller region of the upper-left-hand corner -- but you can't pick an arbitrary sub-rectangle.

Q. Chrome currently renders IOSurfaces to the screen using OpenGL, which is difficult to make seamlessly interoperate with Cocoa. Currently Chrome has to generate a "mask" in Cocoa and render the OpenGL as an underlay in order for Cocoa to correctly occlude web page rendering when necessary. In the past, attempted to use a layer-backed view for the root view, but had occlusion problems such as the find bar. Are there better ways, or ways more compatible with CG, to draw IOSurfaces to the screen? Alternative code paths like IOSurface -> CIImage? Also, we switch back and forth between software-rendered NSViews and those into which we render an IOSurface using OpenGL.

A. Not really. There's also a way to back a CALayer to an IOSurfaceRef nowadays -- but this wouldn't really save a blit. It might save *Chrome* a blit, but CA would be doing it internally.

Could consider rendering to a single-buffered NSOpenGLContext in the browser process!

Q. Is the sharing of Core Animation layer trees across processes (which Safari does via SPI, apparently) more efficient than using IOSurfaces?

A. Yes -- it is probably more efficient -- but we can't talk about what Safari might be doing internally.

Q. Texture corruption during paging

A. Should re-verify existing Radars (MapsGL) against 10.8.2 seed on current hardware.

Q. Is there something Chrome might be doing obviously wrong in its rendering pipeline which is provoking window server hangs and kernel panics more often than other OpenGL applications?

A. Watch out for lifetime management of stuff. Leaks are bad. Will provoke paging that otherwise wouldn't have to do.

Check cross-process GL texture lifetime.

Aside from that, nothing obviously architecturally wrong.

Q. Are window server hangs like definitely Apple bugs, or is it expected that applications might be able to provoke this behavior?

A. Window server hangs are Apple bugs. Please file them. The more Radars the better.