In Vulkan, a pipeline object is bound to the graphics pipeline for a given command buffer when a draw is about to take place. This pipeline object contains information about the draw state, and any time that state changes, a different pipeline object must be created/bound.

This is expensive.

Some time ago, Antonio Caggiano did some work to cache pipeline objects, which lets zink reuse them once they’re created. This was great, because creating Vulkan objects is very costly, and we want to always be reusing objects whenever possible.

Unfortunately, the core Vulkan spec has the number of viewports and scissor regions as both being part of the pipeline state, which means any time either one changes the number of regions (though both viewport and scissor region counts are the same for our purposes), we need a new pipeline.

Extensions to the Rescue

VK_EXT_extended_dynamic_state adds functionality to avoid this performance issue. When supported, the pipeline object is created with zero as the count of viewport and scissor regions, and then vkCmdSetViewportWithCountEXT and vkCmdSetScissorWithCountEXT can be called just before draw to ram these state updates into the command buffer without ever needing a different pipeline object.

Longer posts later in the week; I’m in the middle of a construction zone for the next few days, and it’s less hospitable than I anticipated.

Written on September 21, 2020