Re: Potential ways to describe virtio-video device capabilities

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]


On 22.09.23 12:03, Laurent Pinchart wrote:
On Fri, Sep 22, 2023 at 07:07:34AM +0200, Alexander Gordeev wrote:

I'm working on updating virtio-video draft v8 spec [1] and the
virtio-video V4L2 driver [2]. One of the things, that I don't like in
the current spec draft is sharing the device's capabilities with the
guest VM. The main requirement is making these capabilities compatible
with V4L2.

These capabilities could be pretty complex, see [3] and [4]:
1. First there could be several coded video formats. Coded formats have
their specific sets of supported controls.
2. Then for each coded video formats there could be different sets of
raw video formats, that could be used in combination with the selected
encoded format for decoding/encoding.
3. Then for each combination of the coded and raw format there could be
different sets of supported resolutions.
4. (Optional) for each coded format, raw format and resolution there
could be different sets of supported frame rates/intervals.

In the future new formats, controls, flags, etc could be defined. Right
now there is a rather static structure, see section
(VIRTIO_VIDEO_CMD_DEVICE_QUERY_CAPS) in [5]. It looks too inflexible.

The V4L2 approach with many different ioctl's and complex querying logic
doesn't fit well for virtio-video IMHO. syscall overhead is only a few
hundred nanoseconds, so doing tens or hundreds of them is bearable in
case of video. But a roundtrip over virtio may take hundreds of
microseconds even in the local case. We at OpenSynergy already have
setups where the real hardware is accessed over a network. Then it can
take a millisecond. People already seem to agree, that this amount of
overhead makes V4L2-style discovery process unbearable on a per stream
basis. So all the relevant data has to be obtained during the device
probing. This means, that in many cases there is a complex structure
with all the data on the device side, and we just need to move it to the
driver side. Moving it in one step seems easier to me and better because
of the latency. Boot time matters too sometimes.

No disagreement here. For what it's worth, I think V4L2 should also
evolve and get a way to query capabilities with a single (or a very
small number of) ioctl.

That would be great in my opinion. Maybe a little bit different use-case ADAIU because the direction is somewhat reversed: with the virtio-video the kernel would need to read a DTB, and with normal V4L2 kernel drivers it would have to write a DTB. I think writing a DTB in the kernel is already possible with the current implementation, but I haven't checked. Reading a DTB in user-space is not an issue. I'll take this use-case into account in the future.

One of the ideas is to replace the mentioned
VIRTIO_VIDEO_CMD_DEVICE_QUERY_CAPS command response with a standalone
Device Tree Blob. It looks the most promising to me right now. I guess,
it may sound crazy to many people, but actually it fits into one of the
device tree usage patterns outlined in [6]. This document is referenced
in the kernel device tree documentation, so I assume it is correct.

If we want to pass flexible structured data we need a binary format, and
DT provides a binary format. Whether it's the best option or not, I
don't know, but it doesn't seem too crazy to me.

Good! Well, I'm not sure if DT is the best option certainly. Form my PoV having a spec that hopefully could be used as a normative reference is essential. The there is a lot of tooling, that I mentioned. There is ACPI, but it is too bloated IMO. I know of ALSA topologies and netlink protocol specs in YAML, but looks like they're very Linux specific. Besides that not sure what else could fit...

A simplified version could look like this, for example:


/ {
      virtio-video {
          compatible = "virtio,video";

          virtio,video-caps {
              h264 {
                  profiles-mask = <0x3ffff>;
                  levels-mask = <0xfffff>;
                  num-resources-range = <1 32>;
                  buffer-size = <0x100000>;
                  bitrates-range = <100000 10000000>;

                  yuv420 {
                      plane-layout-mask = <0x3>;
                      plane-align = <1>;
                      stride-align-mask = <0x10>;
                      widths-range-stepwise = <96 1920 8>;
                      heights-range-stepwise = <96 1080 1>;
                      num-resources-range = <4 50>;

                  nv12 {
                      /* ... */

                  rgba {
                      /* ... */

              hevc {
                  /* ... */

              vp8 {
                  /* ... */

              vp9 {
                  /* ... */

Or maybe the resolutions could be defined separately and linked using
phandles to avoid duplication because they are going to depend on the
raw formats exclusively in most cases, I think.

There are many benefits IMO:

1. Device tree can be used to describe arbitrary trees (and even
arbitrary graphs with phandles). The underlying data structure is
generic. It looks like it can fit very well here.
2. There is a specification of the format [7]. I hope it could be
referenced in the virtio spec, right?
3. There is already DTS, DTC, libfdt and DTB parsing code in Linux. All
of this can be reused. For example, at the moment we have a custom
configuration file format and a big chunk of code to handle it in our
virtio-video device. These could be replaced by DTS and calls to libfdt
completely, I think. There is also an implementation in Rust [8].

How does libfdt fare when it comes to ease of use and performance ?
License-wise it seems to be dual-licensed under the terms of the GPL v2
and BSD-2, so it should be fine.

There are some tools in the dtc repository, that use the libfdt. They seem relatively simple:

I haven't tested the performance that much. I tried dtc and the mentioned utils with dts file similar to the one above, it was always instant. Also the representation of the DT in memory, when parsed in the kernel, seems pretty straightforward. I've found the description here: So I guess it should be fine from performance PoV. But maybe we should discuss a benchmark.
I'd be happy to learn about other options as well.

4. I think the standalone DTB could be integrated into a board DTB later
reducing the amount of queries to zero. It is not going to make a big
difference in latency though.

If device trees are used, then we'll need add a binding/schema to the
kernel or to the dt-schema repo [9]. Maybe the schema could be
referenced in the virtio-video spec instead of duplicating it? This
would reduce the spec size.

I don't know if anybody has already done anything like this and I'm not
sure if the device tree maintainers and other involved parties would
approve it. That's why I'm starting this thread. Please share your
opinions about the idea.

An alternative to using device trees would be inventing something
similar and simpler (without phandles and strings) from scratch. That's
fine too, but doesn't allow to reuse the tooling and also is going to
make the virtio-video spec even bigger.


Alexander Gordeev
Senior Software Engineer

OpenSynergy GmbH
Rotherstr. 20, 10245 Berlin

[Index of Archives]     [Linux Virtualization]     [Linux Virtualization]     [Linux ARM Kernel]     [Linux ARM]     [Linux Omap]     [Fedora ARM]     [IETF Annouce]     [Security]     [Bugtraq]     [Linux OMAP]     [Linux MIPS]     [ECOS]     [Asterisk Internet PBX]     [Linux API]     [Monitors]