Whenever an unredirected fullscreen window uses pageflipping for a DRI3/Present PresentPixmap() operation and the X-Screen has more than one active output, multiple crtc's need to execute pageflips. Only after the last flip has completed can the PresentPixmap operation as a whole complete.
If a sync_flip is requested for the present, then the current implementation will synchronize each pageflip to the vblank of its associated crtc. This provides tear-free image presentation across all outputs, but introduces a different artifact, if not all outputs run at the same refresh rate with perfect synchrony: The slowest output throttles the presentation rate, and present completion is delayed to flip completion of the "latest" output to complete. This means degraded performance, e.g., a dual-display setup with a 144 Hz monitor and a 60 Hz monitor will always be throttled to at most 60 fps. It also means non-constant present rate if refresh cycles drift against each other, creating complex "beat patterns", tremors, stutters and periodic slowdowns - quite irritating!
Such a scenario will be especially annoying if one uses multiple outputs in "mirror mode" aka "clone mode". One output will usually be the "production output" with the highest quality and fastest display attached, whereas a secondary mirror output just has a cheaper display for monitoring attached. Users care about perfect and perfectly timed tear-free presentation on the "production output", but cares less about quality on the secondary "mirror output". They are willing to trade quality on secondary outputs away in exchange for better presentation timing on the "production output".
One example use case for such production + monitoring displays are neuroscience / medical science applications where one high quality display device is used to present visual animations to test subjects or patients in a fMRI scanner room (production display), whereas an operator monitors the same visual animations from a control room on a lower quality display. Presentation timing needs to be perfect, and animations high-speed and tear-free for the production display, whereas quality and timing don't matter for the monitoring display.
This commit gives users the option to choose such a trade-off as opt-in:
It adds a new boolean option "AsyncFlipSecondaries" to the device section of xorg.conf. If this option is specified as true, then DRI3 pageflip behaviour changes as follows:
The "reference crtc" for a windows PresentPixmap operation does a vblank synced flip, or a DRM_MODE_PAGE_FLIP_ASYNC non-synchronized flip, as requested by the caller, just as in the past. Typically flips will be requested to be vblank synchronized for tear-free presentation. The "reference crtc" is the one chosen by the caller to drive presentation timing (as specified by PresentPixmap()'s "target_msc", "divisor", "remainder" parameters and implemented by vblank events) and to deliver Present completion timestamps (msc and ust) extracted from its pageflip completion event.
All other crtc's, which also page-flip in a multi-display configuration, will try to flip with DRM_MODE_PAGE_FLIP_ASYNC, ie. immediately and not synchronized to vblank. This allows the PresentPixmap operation to complete with little delay compared to a single-display present, especially if the different crtc's run at different video refresh rates or their refresh cycles are not perfectly synchronized, but drift against each other. The downside is potential tearing artifacts on all outputs apart from the one of the "reference crtc".
Successfully tested on a AMD gpu with single-display, dual-display and triple-display setups, and with single-X-Screen as well as dual-X-Screen "ZaphodHeads" configurations.
Please consider merging this commit for the upcoming server 1.21 branch.
Signed-off-by: Mario Kleiner firstname.lastname@example.org