[cairo] Performance push - how did it go?

Carl Worth cworth at cworth.org
Mon Jun 15 13:36:45 PDT 2009

On Mon, 2009-05-11 at 16:14 -0700, Stuart Axon wrote:
> http://lists.cairographics.org/archives/cairo/2006-August/007574.html
> When I look up cairo performance I find references to the performance
> push, but nothing afterwards... how did it go?

Well, I think it's *still* going, (so maybe it didn't go well in one
sense that it's taking much longer than I originally hoped), but I think
it is going quite well.

For the strictly-software side of things, pixman is in its own library
now, shared by both the X server and by cairo, and has gotten a lot of
fast-path treatment for various CPU architectures. There have also been
multiple experiments at doing just-in-time compilation for pixman, and
perhaps one of those will land someday.

For the GPU-accelerated side of things, there's a lot of
non-cairo-specific work that's been going on to improve the performance
of the X server Render acceleration for various graphics drivers. This
is a bit of a perpetual effort. Some people are optimistic that one day
we'll be able to eliminate 2D-specific drivers and just get the X server
to use the 3D drivers for good quality and high-performance Render.

More on the cairo side of things, there have been recent experimental
efforts to avoid depending on the Render extension. This has been in the
form of cairo-drm and cairo-gl. There are some promising things there,
but it's still experimental.

Finally, one of the specific points I made in the "performance push"
email you linked to was the need for macro benchmarks. Chris Wilson has
very recently done some incredibly useful work along these lines by
establishing the cairo-traces collection of real-world performance
benchmarks and the cairo-perf-trace tool for measuring them. I talk
about these a bit on my blog post here:


So we're having a lot of fun, and cairo does keep getting faster, even
if it's getting faster more slowly than we would like.


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