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OpenGL Mind if we discuss VBO streaming?

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Ah, well I guess my computer was choosing "Integrated Graphics" when running my app. It's usually pretty good about choosing the right graphics chip, but not this time.

I set it to use Dedicated globally, and that did give each method a significant performance boost, with Method 3 performing about 33% better than method 1.

When rendering 600k verts, I now get 131fps with Method 1 and 175fps with Method 3.

600k verts! That doesn't sound to shabby to me. =)

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you have to remember that the driver is responsible for doing all the dirty work on the backend, and it doesn't gurantee that any of the above method's well do what they are suppose to do, only that the resulting image should be the same, so method 1, might actually be doing what method 3 does on the backend, but again, it's completely up to the driver to implement things however it see's fit.

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That is an interesting comparison Geometrian. I always thought transform feedback would have minimal impact on performance compared to compute shaders and OpenCL, but from your example it seems it does make a lot of difference. Are there any settings you could tweak to optimize the performance?

Perhaps this is going a bit off topic, but I am curious to know. Does anyone know how compute shaders compare to OpenCL and transform feedback?

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Yeah, I'm actually extremely interested in that comparison. When I read about transform feedback, that's pretty much exactly what it sounded like to me -- OpenCL-like functionality within OpenGL. I have to say, Geometrian, your post was very enlightening.

slicer4ever, that's a good point.

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I've done some work with compute shaders in D3D (not GL) and in general I've found that they're a good bit slower for this kind of simpler use case, partially because of resource binding rules and partially because current hardware incurs some overhead when switching compute shaders on and off each frame. Future hardware should be better, of course, and more complex use cases do exist where the gain from using a CS outweighs the overhead; something like this is just currently more likely to come out on the wrong side of the tradeoff.

In all cases your option (3) should be faster, but that's not the only bottleneck in your code. You're also drawing a lot of particles so you have quite substantial fillrate overhead too, and with a sufficiently high number of particles that's just going to swamp the time taken to do buffer updates (especially when you come to do more complex per-fragment ops on them). That's what I'd intentify as a major cause of your times coming out more equal than they otherwise would be.

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Interesting. Do you suppose I could test that by making sure that the particles are out of view, and thus clipped?

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About test setup nr 3:

I would use a sync object instead of orphaning - no need to trash the memory, just reuse (with range invalidation [GPU->CPU is VERY costly and unnecessary here] / unsynchronized of course). Also, ~x3-x4 buffer size overhead should be more than enough (my own streaming world-geometry buffer has a lag of only 2 frames). Test it please - expecting an improvement.

Bottleneck:
* CPU bound: per vertex calculations at CPU side can be quite costly - IF you can not do that at GPU side then uninterleaving the vertex position might speed it up considerably by using vector instructions (SSE2 or whatever else is available).
* GPU bound: hell no, the GPU is bored to death ... it is hardly doing anything with thous vertices in comparison.
* Transfer bound: i somewhat suspect your test implementation is mostly CPU bound, but transfer probably still takes quite a lot of time. If your streaming is done right (show relevant code?) then you can not get any better with that and need to consider alternatives (transform feedback / opencl as mentioned).

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Orphaning is actually an incredibly cheap operation - D3D has been doing it since version 7 back in the 1990s or thereabouts, and drivers/hardware are built around this usage scheme. With orphaning what happens is the first one or two times you may get some memory allocation, but after that the driver is able to detect that the programmer is doing this and will keep previously used copies of the buffer memory around, flipping between them as required - classic double-buffering but managed for you by the driver. So memory trashing doesn't occur, the driver will just hand back a chunk of memory that had previously been used and all is well.

If you're still concered about that, there is an alternative method. If you size your buffer so that it's always at least large enough for 3 or more frames of data, you don't even need to orphan at all - by the time you reset your position back to 0 the GPU will already have finished with the vertexes at the start of the buffer, so you can just map the range as normal. This obviously needs you to know a bit more about how much data you're pushing, what your maximums are, etc, but if your use case meets those requirements it can be used and can work very well. No need for sync objects and everything runs smoothly. Edited by mhagain

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A bit confusing reply :/

[quote name='mhagain' timestamp='1346843460' post='4976770']
Orphaning is actually an incredibly cheap operation ...
[/quote]
Yes, and not doing something at all is even cheaper than doing it needlessly (*).

Which is why i recommended ...

[quote name='mhagain' timestamp='1346843460' post='4976770']If you size your buffer so that it's always at least large enough for 3 or more frames of data, you don't even need to orphan at all - by the time you reset your position back to 0 the GPU will already have finished with the vertexes at the start of the buffer, so you can just map the range as normal.[/quote]
... wait ... you propose the exact same option. Except ...

[quote name='mhagain' timestamp='1346843460' post='4976770']
No need for sync objects and everything runs smoothly.
[/quote]
... i would still use it for purely sanity reasons (GL does not specify how many frames are allowed in command buffer. Ie, swapbuffers does not mean a glFinish nowadays [thankfully] as modern drivers add it to command buffer like all the other commands - up to driver specific limit).

(*) hm, on second thought, for such a small buffer it indeed should not make much difference. I use orphaning exclusively for use-once streams as they all happen to be few and small in my case. Such exceptions excepted - i prefer to use one big buffer for all the use-once-or-perhaps-more streaming (instead of thousands of separate buffers for them [4K-40K real case, ~2-8K per second flying in/out]) and do the syncing/management on my own (no cons and plenty pros).

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