[Libre-soc-dev] [Mesa-dev] Loading Vulkan Driver

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Sun Aug 23 22:24:31 BST 2020

On Sun, Aug 23, 2020 at 8:50 PM Dave Airlie <airlied at gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't want to get involved in half-thought out schemes here,

[this has been in the planning stage for... almost 2 years now?]

> but I'm
> going to indulge myself in one post.


> The programming model is what designs the driver:
> If your "GPU" is a scalar processor with 1000s of threads, then you
> want to operate it with a GPU driver.
> If your "GPU" is a wide-vector processor with only 10s of threads, you
> want to use llvmpipe style driver.

ironically due to it being a general-purpose processor with wide
vector processing added, and custom vectorised 3D opcodes, and no
SIMT, it strictly fits neither of those definitions, neither being
SIMT, nor SIMD, and yet having the possibility (through a NoC such as
OpenPITON) to run thousands of SMP cores (not SIMT threads: SMP

consequently we are in... "new ground".  luckily, NLNet recognise that
this is a Research Project.

> The big thing doing what Jacob did before, and from memory where he
> went wrong despite advice to the contrary is he skipped the
> "vectorises it" stage, which is highly important for vector CPU
> execution, as opposed to scalar GPU.

i saw the cross-over message, he explained why that was as part of an
early prototype (back in... 2018?)

> I'm guessing you want to add an LLVM backend for your "GPU"
> instructions (are these all vectorised?),

yes they are.  or, more to the point we're taking the *entire* scalar
POWER9 ISA and vectorising that (and extending the regfiles to 128x
64-bit entries).  vectors may be up to 64 elements (although doing so
@ 32 bit takes 1/2 the entire 128-deep FP or INT regfile)

> and just work out how to use llvmpipe and vallium.

as i am focussing primarily on the hardware, and trusting jacob and
vivek's knowledge, i am summarising.  we decided to treat the CPU,
from the perspective of this MESA driver, as more a GPU than a "SMT

this will allow us the leg-room to *consider* adding SIMT at the
hardware level in the future (2+ years).  where from what i gather, if
we go with llvmpipe right now that would not be possible.


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