Tag Archives: C++11

Lava erupting from Vulkan : Initialization or Hello World

Hi there !
A Few weeks ago, February 16th to be precise, Vulkan, the new graphic API from Khronos was released. It is a new API which gives much more control about the GPUs than OpenGL (API I loved before Vulkan ^_^).

OpenGL’s problems

Driver Overhead

Fast rendering problems could be from the driver, video games don’t use perfectly the GPU (maybe 80% instead of 95-100% of use). Driver overheads have big costs and more recent OpenGL version tend to solve this problem with Bindless Textures, multi draws, direct state access, etc.
Keep in mind that each GPU calls could have a big cost.
Cass Everitt, Tim Foley, John McDonald, Graham Sellers presented Approaching Zero Driver Overhead with OpenGL in 2014.

Multi threading

With OpenGL, it is not possible to have an efficient multi threading, because an OpenGL context is for one and only one thread that is why it is not so easy to make a draw call from another thread ^_^.

Vulkan

Vulkan is not really a low level API, but it provides a far better abstraction for moderns hardwares. Vulkan is more than AZDO, it is, as Graham Sellers said, PDCTZO (Pretty Darn Close To Zero Overhead).

Series of articles about Lava

What is Lava ?

Lava is the name I gave to my new graphic (physics?) engine. It will let me learn how Vulkan work, play with it, implement some global illumination algorithms, and probably share with you my learnings and feelings about Vulkan. It is possible that I’ll make some mistakes, so, If I do, please let me know !

Why Lava ?

Vulkan makes me think about Volcano that make me think about Lava, so… I chose it 😀 .

Initialization

Now begins what I wanted to discuss, initialization of Vulkan.
First of all, you have to really know and understand what you will attend to do. For the beginning, we are going to see how to have a simple pink window.

Hello world with Vulkan
Hello world with Vulkan

When you are developing with Vulkan, I advise you to have specifications from Khronos on another window (or screen if you are using multiple screens).
To have an easier way to manage windows, I am using GLFW 3.2, and yes, you are mandatory to compile it yourself ^_^, but it is not difficult at all, so it is not a big deal.

Instance

Contrary to OpenGL, in Vulkan, there is no global state, an instance could be similar to an OpenGL Context. An instance doesn’t know anything about other instances, is utterly isolate. The creation of an instance is really easy.

Physical devices, devices and queues

From this Instance, you could retrieve all GPUs on your computer.
You could create a connection between your application and the GPU you want using a VkDevice.
Creating this connection, you have to create as well queues.
Queues are used to perform tasks, you submit the task to a queue and it will be performed.
The queues are separated between several families.
A good way could be use several queues, for example, one for the physics and one for the graphics (or even 2 or three for this last).
You could as well give a priority (between 0 and 1) to a queue. Thanks to that, if you consider a task not so important, you just have to give to the used queue a low priority :).

Image, ImageViews and FrameBuffers

The images represent a mono or multi dimensional array (1D, 2D or 3D).
The images don’t give any get or set for data. If you want to use them in your application, then you must use ImageViews.

ImageViews are directly relied to an image. The creation of an ImageView is not really complicated.

You could write into ImageViews via FrameBuffers. A FrameBuffer owns multiple imageViews (attachments) and is used to write into them.

The way to render something

A window is assigned to a Surface (VkSurfaceKHR). To draw something, you have to render into this surface via swapchains.

From notions of Swapchains

In Vulkan, you have to manage the double buffering by yourself via Swapchain. When you create a swapchain, you link it to a Surface and tell it how many images you need. For a double buffering, you need 2 images.

Once the swapchain was created, you should retrieve images and create frame buffers using them.

The steps to have a correct swapchain is :

  1. Create a Window
  2. Create a Surface assigned to this Window
  3. Create a Swapchain with several images assigned to this Surface
  4. Create FrameBuffers using all of these images.

Using swapchain is not difficult.

  1. Acquire the new image index
  2. Present queue

To notions of Render Pass

Right now, Vulkan should be initialized. To render something, we have to use render pass, and command buffer.

Command Buffers

Command buffer is quite similar to vertex array object (VAO) or display list (old old old OpenGL 😀 ).
You begin the recorded state, you record some “information” and you end the recorded state.
Command buffers are allocated from the CommandPool.

Vulkan provides two types of Command Buffer.

  1. Primary level : They should be submitted within a queue.
  2. Secondary level : They should be executed by a primary level command buffer.

Renderpass

One render pass is executed on one framebuffer. The creation is not easy at all. One render pass is componed with one or several subpasses.
I remind that framebuffers could have several attachments.
Each attachment are not mandatory to be used for all subpasses.

This piece of code to create one renderpass is not definitive at all and will be changed as soon as possible ^^. But for our example, it is correct.

In the same way as for command buffer, render pass should be began and ended!

Our engine in action

Actually, our “engine” is not really usable ^^.
But in the future, command pool, render pass should don’t appear in the user files !

If you want the whole source code :
GitHub

Reference

Approaching Zero Driver Overhead :Lecture
Approaching Zero Driver Overhead : Slides
Vulkan Overview 2015
Vulkan in 30 minutes
VkCube
GLFW with Vulkan

Flux: Qt Quick with unidirectional data flow

Hello !

Today is an important day, is the day of the first article of Qt I wrote.

Have you ever heard anything about Model View Controller or Model View Delegate???? Yes obviously, but right now, we’re going to talk about another thing (yes I am funny I know) . We are going to talk about Facebook, I mean a pattern which comes from Facebook.

What are we going to talk about??

We are going to talk about the Flux pattern, this pattern says data flow should be unidirectional as opposed to the Model View Delegate pattern.

modelview-overviewModel View Delegate multi directional data flow : Credit Qt

Flux pattern representation

Flux unidirectional data flow

What is the advantages to use Flux pattern?

  1. Signals propagation is easy and do not require any copy and paste.
  2. The code is easy to read.
  3. There is low coupling

What is the Action Creator?

When a user wants to interact with the application, he want to do an “Action“. For example, he could wants to add things to a todo list, so he could launch an Action(“Things to do”);
The Action Creator is here to give Action to our dispatcher.

What is the Dispatcher?

A dispatcher takes an action and its arguments and dispatchs it through all stores.

What is the Store?

A store is like a collection of datas but it also has logic buried inside it.

What is the View?

It shows all data.

What are we going to see?

We are going to see how to write a little application using Flux.
Our application could seem to that :
Screenshot_2016-02-19-20-22-20

Let’s code !

First, we need to know what our application has to do.
It must have possibility to add a counter, increment and decrement them. We exactly have 3 actions. It is that simple !

Now, we are going to see what is the AppDispatcher.

A dispatcher should take as argument the action type and a message (id for example). This dispatcher should dispatch this action as well.

You easily could improve the dispatch behaviour. Indeed, it could be more safe to use a queue… But in this example, I just show the mechanism and try to don’t overcomplicate the app.

I remind dispatcher dispatchs through the stores.
A store is a singleton which manages all objects of the same type. Our store manages all counters in the app.

A counter is an object with an id and a value, knowing that, we easily get :

On the onDispatched check if it is the good action, and if it is, do the required work.

Now we just need a view, as you see before, we use a “model” to store  all data, it will be the same for the view / delegate, but even if we use model view delegate, we will keep a unidirectional data flow.

The delegate will explains how an item should be rendered.
It is componed by 2 buttons (+ and -) and a value :

Yeah I know, there is some duplication of code, it is not good…
Now, we have the possibility to render items, we should print many of them.
Flux tells us datas are coming from Store, so let’s implement what Flux says!

It is the end, if you have any questions, please, let me know !
Hope you enjoyed it and learned somethings !

References

Flux by Facebook
Quick Flux : Problems about MVC and introduction

Thanks !