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Vulkano

Safe Rust wrapper around the Vulkan API

Creating a buffer

When using Vulkan, you will very often need the GPU to read or write data in memory. In fact there isn't much point in using the GPU otherwise, as there is nothing you can do with the results of its work except write them to memory.

In order for the GPU to be able to access some data (either for reading, writing or both), we first need to create a buffer object and put the data in it.

Several kinds of buffers

Vulkano does not provide a generic Buffer struct which you could create with Buffer::new. Instead, it provides several different structs that all represent buffers, each of these structs being optimized for a certain kind of usage. For example, if you want to continuously upload data to the GPU, you should use a CpuBufferPool; on the other hand, if you have some data that will largely remain visible only to the GPU, a DeviceLocalBuffer brings increased performance at the cost of more complicated data access from the CPU.

The most simple kind of buffer that exists is the CpuAccessibleBuffer, which can be created like this:

use vulkano::buffer::{BufferUsage, CpuAccessibleBuffer};

let data: i32 = 12;
let buffer = CpuAccessibleBuffer::from_data(
    device.clone(),
    BufferUsage {
        uniform_buffer: true,
        ..Default::default()
    },
    false,
    data,
)
.expect("failed to create buffer");

We have to indicate several things when creating the buffer. The first parameter is the device to use. Since device is actually an Arc<Device>, the call to .clone() only clones the Arc which isn't expensive. You should get used to passing the device as a parameter, as you will need to do so for most of the Vulkan objects that you create.

The second parameter indicates which purpose we are creating the buffer for, which can help the implementation perform some optimizations. Trying to use a buffer in a way that wasn't indicated in its constructor will result in an error. For the sake of the example, we just create a BufferUsage that supports being used as a uniform buffer.

The third parameter indicates if the buffer should be CPU cached. This should rarely be true for most use cases, but in some cases where the application is writing data to the GPU through this buffer continuously, setting this parameter to true may yield some performance gain. This parameter should not be true if the user intends to read results from the GPU from this buffer as GPU changes may not reflect.

Finally, the fourth parameter is the content of the buffer. Here we create a buffer that contains a single integer with the value 12.

Note: In a real application you shouldn't create buffers with only 4 bytes of data. Although buffers aren't expensive, you should try to group as much related data as you can in the same buffer.

From_data and from_iter

In the example above we create a buffer that contains the value 12, which is of type i32. but you can put any type you want in a buffer, there is no restriction. In order to give our arbitrary types a representation that can be used in a generic way, we use the crate bytemuck and its "plain old data" trait, Pod. Thus, we add the following dependency to our Cargo.toml:

bytemuck = "1.12.1"

After that you can, for example, write this:

use bytemuck::{Pod, Zeroable};

// here we derive all these traits to ensure the data behaves as simple as possible
#[repr(C)]
#[derive(Default, Copy, Clone, Zeroable, Pod)]
struct MyStruct {
    a: u32,
    b: u32,
}

let data = MyStruct { a: 5, b: 69 };

let buffer = CpuAccessibleBuffer::from_data(
    device.clone(),
    BufferUsage {
        uniform_buffer: true,
        ..Default::default()
    },
    false,
    data,
)
.unwrap();

Note: While you can put any type that implements these traits in a buffer, using a type that doesn't implement the Send and Sync traits or that isn't 'static will restrict what you can do with that buffer.

While it is sometimes useful to use a buffer that contains a single struct, in practice it is very common to put an array of values inside of a buffer. You can, for example, put an array of fifty i32s in a buffer with the CpuAccessibleBuffer::from_data function.

However in practice it is also very common to not know the size of the array at compile-time. In order to handle this, CpuAccessibleBuffer provides a from_iter constructor that takes an iterator to the data as the last parameter, instead of the data itself.

In the example below, we create a buffer that contains the value 5 of type u8, 128 times. The type of the content of the buffer is [u8], which, in Rust, represents an array of u8s whose size is only known at runtime.

let iter = (0..128).map(|_| 5u8);
let buffer = CpuAccessibleBuffer::from_iter(
    device.clone(),
    BufferUsage {
        uniform_buffer: true,
        ..Default::default()
    },
    false,
    iter,
)
.unwrap();

Reading and writing the contents of a buffer

Once a CpuAccessibleBuffer is created, you can access its content with the read() or write() methods. Using read() will grant you shared access to the content of the buffer, and using write() will grant you exclusive access. This is similar to using a RwLock.

For example if buffer contains a MyStruct (see above):

let mut content = buffer.write().unwrap();
// `content` implements `DerefMut` whose target is of type `MyStruct` (the content of the buffer)
content.a *= 2;
content.b = 9;

Alternatively, suppose that the content of buffer is of type [u8] (like with the example that uses from_iter):

let mut content = buffer.write().unwrap();
// this time `content` derefs to `[u8]`
content[12] = 83;
content[7] = 3;

Just like the constructors, keep in mind that being able to read/write the content of the buffer like this is specific to the CpuAccessibleBuffer. Other kinds of buffers (for example the DeviceLocalBuffer) do not provide such methods.

Next: Example operation