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Re: [Public WebGL] Issues with sharing resources across contexts

All of them ;)
Almost every use case of WebGL on workers needs mutable resources.

The primary ones I've used in the past (and would love to use in WebGL with workers) is modifying buffer data in various worker threads. You always want to pool the buffers and double (or triple) buffer them when rendering. They may be populated on one worker and drawn on another (or the main thread). Same with textures in the case of either a render-to-texture done on a worker or a plain old upload, or the reverse of reading back the framebuffer on another worker for JS processing.

These cases would be possible with ownership transfer, and transferable arrays has shown that it's an easy concept to wrap ones head around and works well.

One thing that would suffer, though, is the case of multiple readers. I may want to do some readback of a texture for GPGPU data, and could imagine sending that texture to multiple workers - each worker would then readPixels a separate region of the texture.

The other thing that suffers with single ownership is reusing shared resources (shaders/buffers/textures) - I can imagine (and want) many cases where I'd have multiple workers rendering the same scene in different ways - whether it's a visualization tool or a game that does things like GPGPU occlusion culling in one worker and real rendering in another. Or megatexture processing using the same geometry buffers in one worker, readback of the framebuffer for processing in another, texture uploads in yet another, and final scene rendering on the main thread. If I had to duplicate all of my level geometry, rerun my CPU skinning, process my particle systems, and consume Nx as much GPU memory for each worker I'd be disappointed - especially on embedded devices.

Hmm... I feel like an acquisition model probably makes the most sense for these cases, although it's a bit more complex...
- pass webgl resources to other workers like transferrable arrays (as additional args to postMessage)
- a resource is not usable once received until acquired
- some WebGLRenderingContext (or extension methods) to work with the objects:
  - acquireResource(obj, mode [READ_ONLY, READ_WRITE]) --> returns whether acquired
  - releaseResource(obj)
- if you try to read or write an unacquired object, fail at API level
- if you try to write to a read only object, fail at API level
- multiple readers are allowed, only one writer

This allows multiple workers to render the same objects (all acquire as read only), removes the required implicit flush, and substitutes an explicit flush (an acquire for reading of a dirty object could flush, if that was tracked). Performance-wise most apps would likely acquire as read only once and never have to worry about it again (no synchronization across workers required), It's also not magic - meaning that it may require a few more calls, but it's very clear what's happening and why, and it's not possible to fall into some undiscoverable (or unavoidable) performance trap with implicit flushes.

On Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM, David Sheets <kosmo.zb@gmail.com> wrote:
On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 6:03 PM, Gregg Tavares (社用) <gman@google.com> wrote:
> I agree that solution would work for 2+ contexts in a single webpage since
> webpages are single threaded. Is that enough for now? Do we care about
> WebWorkers where that solution will no longer be enough?
> Lemme throw out some ideas. They probably suck but maybe they'll jog some
> others.
> What if a resource could only be used in 1 context at a time and you had to
> transfer ownership to use it another context? That might solve this issue as
> well. Would that be too restrictive? What if an object could be used in any
> context but state only set in the context that "owns" it? Not sure that
> would help. In the case above it would mean any context could call
> UseProgram but only the context that owns it could call AttachShaders and
> LinkProgram since those change state. Of course that wouldn't solve every
> issue because UseProgram requires the results of LinkProgram.
> I'm just throwing that out there. The idea is probably not workable but it
> would be nice to try to design an WebGL API for WebWorkers that didn't have
> the ambiguity that OpenGL has as far as execution order. Whatever that
> solution is might also work for 2 contexts in the same page.

What if a means is provided to make a given WebGL resource immutable?
Once the resource is 'frozen', no further modification would be
allowed but the resource could be shared between contexts or workers.

What are the use cases for shared mutable WebGL resources?


> On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 5:36 PM, Ben Vanik <benvanik@google.com> wrote:
>> In previous systems I've worked with I've used implicit flushes when
>> swapping contexts and it made life much easier. Every call in the graphics
>> layer basically had this:
>> void MyGraphicsAPI::SomeCall() {
>>   MakeCurrent();
>>   ...
>> };
>> void MyGraphicsAPI::MakeCurrent() {
>>   if (threadCurrentContext != this) {
>>     Flush();
>>   }
>>   // ... set global threadCurrentContext, etc
>> };
>> Using some macro-fu it was made to be a single variable lookup and branch
>> that predicted well per call, and in the common case of single-context apps
>> had little impact on performance. In apps with multiple contexts it made
>> life much easier when dealing with the sometimes long and hairy code
>> sequences that touched both (rare, but often unavoidable). Had the flush not
>> been implicit it would have required a significant amount of bookkeeping
>> logic that every piece of code that touched a context would have to interact
>> with - yuck. It also meant that code could be moved between apps that used
>> single contexts and multiple contexts without having to change, or the app
>> could even decide at runtime with no ill effect. Explicit flushes would have
>> made that a nightmare.
>> The one downside of the implicit flushes is that it's easy to start
>> flushing all over the place without knowing about it. A simple counter of
>> flushes/frame was enough to help warn that they were happening though, as
>> the target was usually <5 and if you mess things up you would see dozens.
>> It's also often much trickier to find missing explicit flushes that cause
>> subtle and sometimes very hard to identify behavioral differences. Just look
>> at the number of WebGL pages out there today that emit warnings and imagine
>> what it'd be like with this x_x
>> On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 5:18 PM, Gregg Tavares (社用) <gman@google.com>
>> wrote:
>>> So ........... I've been playing around with sharing resources across
>>> WebGL contexts and I'm running into issues and looking for solutions.
>>> The biggest issue is that GL is command buffer driven and so calling some
>>> GL function doesn't mean it's actually been executed. You have to call
>>> glFlush. This raises lots of issues of where a program might work on some
>>> browser / driver / platform combo but not others if the users forgets to
>>> call flush.
>>> For example, assume I have 2 contexts sharing resources. gl1, and gl2
>>>   var vs = gl1.createShader(gl1.VERTEX_SHADER);
>>>   var fs = gl1.createShader(gl1.FRAGMENT_SHADER);
>>>   //...
>>>   // assume shaders are validly compiled
>>>   // ...
>>>   var p = gl1.createProgram();
>>>   gl1.attachShader(p, vs);
>>>   gl1.attachShader(p, fs);
>>>   gl2.linkProgram(p);
>>> I attached on gl1 but linked on gl2. There's is no guarantee in GL that
>>> that link will succeed because the 2 attach commands may have only been
>>> queued and not excuted in which case the linkProgram call will fail with
>>> "missing shaders". The correct code is
>>>   var p = gl1.createProgram();
>>>   gl1.attachShader(p, vs);
>>>   gl1.attachShader(p, fs);
>>>   gl1.flush(); // <--- important
>>>   gl2.linkProgram(p);
>>> That seems unacceptable.
>>> 2 Approaches off the of my head
>>> 1) Try to make it just work without the flush
>>> One solution might be for the implementation to track which context last
>>> had a call. Any call to a different context causes an automatic implicit
>>> flush
>>> 2) Try to make it fail when not done correctly
>>> This solution would be to try to track of an object is "dirty" (state has
>>> been changed) and no flush has been issued since then for that object. When
>>> an object is used, if it's dirty then either a flush is issued (which is
>>> solution #1) or a error is generated. ("called function on dirty object, did
>>> you forget to call flush?")
>>> Neither solution seems ideal. Worse, whatever solution is chosen also has
>>> issues if we ever get WebGL in Workers.
>>> A 3rd solution is just to leave it with the flush required and forgetting
>>> means you get random success / failure. No such a great prospect. :-(
>>> Thoughts?