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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Eric Anholt's LiveJournal:

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Monday, September 26th, 2016
2:17 pm
This week in vc4 (2016-09-26): XDC 2016, glamor testing, glamor performance
Last week I spent at XDS 2016 with other graphics stack developers.

I gave a talk on X Server testing and our development model.  Since playing around in the Servo project (and a few other github-centric communities) recently, I've become increasingly convinced that github + CI + automatic merges is the right way to go about software development now.  I got a warmer reception from the other X Server developers than I expected, and I hope to keep working on building out this infrastructure.

I also spent a while with keithp and ajax (other core X developers) talking about how to fix our rendering performance.  We've got two big things hurting vc4 right now: Excessive flushing, and lack of bounds on rendering operations.

The excessive flushing one is pretty easy.  X currently does some of its drawing directly to the front buffer (I think this is bad and we should stop, but that *is* what we're doing today).  With glamor, we do our rendering with GL, so the driver accumulates a command stream over time.  In order for the drawing to the front buffer to show up on time, both for running animations, and for that last character you typed before rendering went idle, we have to periodically flush GL's command stream so that its rendering to the front buffer (if any) shows up.

Right now we just glFlush() every time we might block sending things back to a client, which is really frequent.  For a tiling architecture like vc4, each glFlush() is quite possibly a load and store of the entire screen (8MB).

The solution I started back in August is to rate-limit how often we flush.  When the server wakes up (possibly to render), I arm a timer.  When it fires, I flush and disarm it until the next wakeup.  I set the timer to 5ms as an arbitrary value that was clearly not pretending to be vsync.  The state machine was a little tricky and had a bug it seemed (or at least a bad interaction with x11perf -- it was unclear).  But ajax pointed out that I could easily do better: we have a function in glamor that gets called right before it does any GL operation, meaning that we could use that to arm the timer and not do the arming every time the server wakes up to process input.

Bounding our rendering operations is a bit trickier.  We started doing some of this with keithp's glamor rework: We glScissor() all of our rendering to the pCompositeClip (which is usually the bounds of the current window).  For front buffer rendering in X, this is a big win on vc4 because it means that when you update an uncomposited window I know that you're only loading and storing the area covered by the window, not the entire screen.  That's a big bandwidth savings.

However, the pCompositeClip isn't enough.  As I'm typing we should be bounding the GL rendering around each character (or span of them), so that I only load and store one or two tiles rather than the entire window.  It turns out, though, that you've probably already computed the bounds of the operation in the Damage extension, because you have a compositor running!  Wouldn't it be nice if we could just reuse that old damage computation and reference it?

Keith has started on making this possible: First with the idea of const-ifying all the op arguments so that we could reuse their pointers as a cheap cache key, and now with the idea of just passing along a possibly-initialized rectangle with the bounds of the operation.  If you do compute the bounds, then you pass it down to anything you end up calling.

Between these two, we should get much improved performance on general desktop apps on Raspberry Pi.

Other updates: Landed opt_peephole_sel improvement for glmark2 performance (and probably mupen64plus), added regression testing of glamor to the X Server, fixed a couple of glamor rendering bugs.
Monday, September 19th, 2016
12:48 pm
This week in vc4 (2016-09-19): firmware KMS, apitrace testing

While stuck on an airplane, I put together a repository for apitraces with confirmed good images for driver output.  Combined with the piglit patches I pushed, I now have regression testing of actual apps on vc4 (particularly relevant given that I'm working on optimizing one of those apps!)

The flight was to visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation, with the goal of getting something usable for their distro to switch to the open 3D stack.  There's still a giant pile of KMS work to do (HDMI audio, DSI power management, SDTV support, etc.), and waiting for all of that to be regression-free will be a long time.  The question is: what could we do that would get us 3D, even if KMS isn't ready?

So, I put together a quick branch to expose the firmware's display stack as the KMS display pipeline. It's a filthy hack, and loses us a lot of the important new features that the open stack was going to bring (changing video modes in X, vblank timestamping, power management), but it gets us much closer to the featureset of the previous stack.  Hopefully they'll be switching to it as the default in new installs soon.

In debugging while I was here, Simon found that on his HDMI display the color ramps didn't quite match between closed and open drivers.  After a bit of worrying about gamma ramp behavior, I figured out that it was actually that the monitor was using a CEA mode that requires limited range RGB input.  A patch is now on the list.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
6:50 am
This week in vc4 2016-09-13: glmark2 performance work
Last week I spent working on the glmark2 performance issues.  I now have a NIR patch out for the pathological conditionals test (it's now faster than on the old driver), and a branch for job shuffling (+17% and +27% on the two desktop tests).

Here's the basic idea of job shuffling:

We're a tiled renderer, and tiled renderers get their wins from having a Clear at the start of the frame (indicating we don't need to load any previous contents into the tile buffer).  When your frame is done, we flush each tile out to memory.  If you do your clear, start rendering some primitives, and then switch to some other FBO (because you're rendering to a texture that you're planning on texturing from in your next draw to the main FBO), we have to flush out all of those tiles, start rendering to the new FBO, and flush its rendering, and then when you come back to the main FBO and we have to reload your old cleared-and-a-few-draws tiles.

Job shuffling deals with this by separating the single GL command stream into separate jobs per FBO.  When you switch to your temporary FBO, we don't flush the old job, we just set it aside.  To make this work we have to add tracking for which buffers have jobs writing into them (so that if you try to read those from another job, we can go flush the job that wrote it), and which buffers have jobs reading from them (so that if you try to write to them, they can get flushed so that they don't get incorrectly updated contents).

This felt like it should have been harder than it was, and there's a spot where I'm using a really bad data structure I had laying around, but that data structure has been bad news since the driver was imported and it hasn't been high in any profiles yet.  The other tests don't seem to have any problem with the possible increased CPU overhead.

The shuffling branch also unearthed a few bugs related to clearing and blitting in the multisample tests.  Some of the piglit cases involved are fixed, but some will be reporting new piglit "regressions" because the tests are now closer to working correctly (sigh, reftests).

I also started writing documentation for updating the system's X and Mesa stack on Raspbian for one of the Foundation's developers.  It's not polished, and if I was rewriting it I would use modular's build.sh instead of some of what I did there.  But it's there for reference.
Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
5:04 pm
This week in vc4 (2016-09-06): glmark2, X testing, kernel maintaining
Last week I was tasked with making performance comparisons between vc4 and the closed driver possible.  I decided to take glmark2 and port it to dispmanx, and submitted a pull request upstream.  It already worked on X11 on the vc4 driver, and I fixed the drm backend to work as well (though the drm backend has performance problems specific to the glmark2 code).

Looking at glmark2, vc4 has a few bugs.  Terrain has some rendering bugs.  The driver on master took a big performance hit on one of the conditionals tests since the loops support was added, because NIR isn't aggressive enough in flattening if statements.  Some of the tests require that we shuffle rendering jobs to avoid extra frame store/loads.  Finally, we need to use the multithreaded fragment shader mode to hide texture fetching latency on a bunch of tests.  Despite the bugs, results looked good.

(Note: I won't be posting comparisons here.  Comparisons will be left up to the reader on their particular hardware and software stacks).

I'm expecting to get to do some glamor work on vc4 again soon, so I spent some of the time while I was waiting for Raspberry Pi builds working on the X Server's testing infrastructure.  I've previously talked about Travis CI, but for it to be really useful it needs to run our integration tests.  I fixed up the piglit XTS test wrapper to not spuriously fail, made the X Test suite spuriously fail less, and worked with Adam Jackson at Red Hat to fix build issues in XTS.  Finally, I wrote scripts that will, if you have an XTS tree and a piglit tree and build Xvfb, actually run the XTS rendering tests at xserver make check time.

Next steps for xserver testing are to test glamor in a similar fashion, and to integrate this testing into travis-ci and land the travis-ci branch.

Finally, I submitted pull requests to the upstream kernel.  4.8 got some fixes for VC4 3D (merged by Dave), and 4.9 got interlaced vblank timing patches from the Mario Kleiner (not yet merged by Dave) and Raspberry Pi Zero (merged by Florian).
Monday, August 29th, 2016
11:55 am
This week in vc4 (2016-08-29): derivatives, GPU hangs, testing, kernel maintaining
I spent a day or so last week cleaning up @jonasarrow's demo patch for derivatives on vc4.  It had been hanging around on the github issue waiting for a rework due to feedback, and I decided to finally just go and do it.  It unfortunately involved totally rewriting their patches (which I dislike doing, it's always more awesome to have the original submitter get credit), but we now have dFdx()/dFdy() on Mesa master.

I also landed a fix for GPU hangs with 16 vertex attributes (4 or more vec4s, aka glsl-routing in piglit).  I'd been debugging this one for a while, and finally came up with an idea ("what if this FIFO here is a bad idea to use and we should be synchronous with this external unit?"), it worked, and a hardware developer confirmed that the fix was correct.  This one got a huge explanation comment.  I also fixed discards inside of if/loop statements -- generally discards get lowered out of ifs, but if it's in a non-unrolled loop we were doing discards ignoring whether the channel was in the loop.

Thanks to review from Rhys, I landed Mesa's Travis build fixes.  Rhys then used Travis to test out a couple of fixes to i915 and r600.  This is pretty cool, but it just makes me really want to get piglit into Travis so that we can get some actual integration testing in this process.

I got xserver's Travis to the point of running the unit tests, and one of them crashes on CI but not locally.  That's interesting.

The last GPU hang I have in piglit is in glsl-vs-loops.  This week I figured out what's going on, and I hope I'll be able to write about a fix next week.

Finally, I landed Stefan Wahren's Raspberry Pi Zero devicetree for upstream.  If nothing goes wrong, the Zero should be supported in 4.9.
Monday, August 22nd, 2016
1:17 pm
vc4 status update for 2016-08-22: camera, NIR, testing
Last week I finally plugged in the camera module I got a while ago to go take a look at what vc4 needs for displaying camera output.

The surprising answer was "nothing."  vc4 could successfully import RGB dmabufs and display them as planes, even though I had been expecting to need fixes on that front.

However, the bcm2835 v4l camera driver needs a lot of work.  First of all, it doesn't use the proper contiguous memory support in v4l (vb2-dma-contig), and instead asks the firmware to copy from the firmware's contiguous memory into vmalloced kernel memory.  This wastes memory and wastes memory bandwidth, and doesn't give us dma-buf support.

Even more, MMAL (the v4l equivalent that the firmware exposes for driving the hardware) wants to output planar buffers with specific padding.  However, instead of using the multi-plane format support in v4l to expose buffers with that padding, the bcm2835 driver asks the firmware to do another copy from the firmware's planar layout into the old no-padding V4L planar format.

As a user of the V4L api, you're also in trouble because none of these formats have any priority information that I can see: The camera driver says it's equally happy to give you RGB or planar, even though RGB costs an extra copy.  I think properly done today, the camera driver would be exposing multi-plane planar YUV, and giving you a mem2mem adapter that could use MMAL calls to turn the planar YUV into RGB.

For now, I've updated the bug report with links to the demo code and instructions.

I also spent a little bit of time last week finishing off the series to use st/nir in vc4.  I managed to get to no regressions, and landed it today.  It doesn't eliminate TGSI, but it does mean TGSI is gone from the normal GLSL path.

Finally, I got inspired to do some work on testing.  I've been doing some free time work on servo, Mozilla's Rust-based web browser, and their development environment has been a delight as a new developer.  All patch submissions, from core developers or from newbies, go through github pull requests.  When you generate a PR, Travis builds and runs the unit tests on the PR.  Then a core developer reviews the code by adding a "r" comment in the PR or provides feedback.  Once it's reviewed, a bot picks up the pull request, tries merging it to master, then runs the full integration test suite on it.  If the test suite passes, the bot merges it to master, otherwise the bot writes a comment with a link to the build/test logs.

Compare this to Mesa's development process.  You make a patch.  You file it in the issue tracker and it gets utterly ignored.  You complain, and someone tells you you got the process wrong, so you join the mailing list and send your patch (and then get a flood of email until you unsubscribe).  It gets mangled by your email client, and you get told to use git-send-email, so you screw around with that for a while before you get an email that will actually show up in people's inboxes.  Then someone reviews it (hopefully) before it scrolls off the end of their inbox, and then it doesn't get committed anyway because your name was familiar enough that the reviewer thought maybe you had commit access.  Or they do land your patch, and it turns out you hasn't run the integration tests and then people complain at you for not testing.

So, as a first step toward making a process like Mozilla's possible, I put some time into fixing up Travis on Mesa, and building Travis support for the X Server.  If I can get Travis to run piglit and ensure that expected-pass tests don't regress, that at least gives us a documentable path for new developers in these two projects to put their code up on github and get automated testing of the branches they're proposing on the mailing lists.
Monday, August 15th, 2016
9:33 am
vc4 status update for 2016-08-15: DSI panel, Raspbian updates, and docs
Last week I mostly worked on getting the upstream work I and others have done into downstream Raspbian (most of that time unfortunately in setting up another Raspbian development environment, after yet another SD card failed).

However, the most exciting thing for most users is that with the merge of the rpi-4.4.y-dsi-stub-squash branch, the DSI display should now come up by default with the open source driver.  This is unfortunately not a full upstreamable DSI driver, because the closed-source firmware is getting in the way of Linux by stealing our interrupts and then talking to the hardware behind our backs.  To work around the firmware, I never talk to the DSI hardware, and we just replace the HVS display plane configuration on the DSI's output pipe.  This means your display backlight is always on and the DSI link is always running, but better that than no display.

I also transferred the wiki I had made for VC4 over to github.  In doing so, I was pleasantly surprised at how much documentation I wanted to write once I got off of the awful wiki software at freedesktop.  You can find more information on VC4 at my mesa and linux trees.

(Side note, wikis on github are interesting.  When you make your fork, you inherit the wiki of whoever you fork from, and you can do PRs back to their wiki similarly to how you would for the main repo.  So my linux tree has Raspberry Pi's wiki too, and I'm wondering if I want to move all of my wiki over to their tree.  I'm not sure.)

Is there anything that people think should be documented for the vc4 project that isn't there?
Monday, August 8th, 2016
2:22 pm
vc4 status update for 2016-08-08: cutting memory usage
Last week's project for vc4 was to take a look at memory usage.  Eben had expressed concern that the new driver stack would use more memory than the closed stack, and so I figured I would spend a little while working on that.

I first pulled out valgrind's massif tool on piglit's glsl-algebraic-add-add-1.shader_test.  This works as a minimum "how much memory does it take to render *anything* with this driver?" test.  We were consuming 1605k of heap at the peak, and there were some obvious fixes to be made.

First, the gallium state_tracker was allocating 659kb of space at context creation so that it could bytecode-interpret TGSI if needed for glRasterPos() and glRenderMode(GL_FEEDBACK).  Given that nobody should ever use those features, and luckily they rarely do, I delayed the allocation of the somewhat misleadingly-named "draw" context until the fallbacks were needed.

Second, Mesa was allocating the memory for the GL 1.x matrix stacks up front at context creation.  We advertise 32 matrices for modelview/projection, 10 per texture unit (32 of those), and 4 for programs.  I instead implemented a typical doubling array reallocation scheme for storing the matrices, so that only the top matrix per stack is allocated at context creation.  This saved 63kb of dirty memory per context.

722KB for these two fixes may not seem like a whole lot of memory to readers on fancy desktop hardware with 8GB of RAM, but the Raspberry Pi has only 1GB of RAM, and when you exhaust that you're swapping to an SD card.  You should also expect a desktop to have several GL contexts created: the X Server uses one to do its rendering, you have a GL-based compositor with its own context, and your web browser and LibreOffice may each have one or more.  Additionally, trying to complete our piglit testsuite on the Raspberry Pi is currently taking me 6.5 hours (when it even succeeds and doesn't see piglit's python runner get shot by the OOM killer), so I could use any help I can get in reducing context initialization time.

However, malloc()-based memory isn't all that's involved.  The GPU buffer objects that get allocated don't get counted by massif in my analysis above.  To try to approximately fix this, I added in valgrind macro calls to mark the mmap()ed space in a buffer object as being a malloc-like operation until the point that the BO is freed.  This doesn't get at allocations for things like the window-system renderbuffers or the kernel's overflow BO (valgrind requires that you have a pointer involved to report it to massif), but it does help.

Once I has massif reporting more, I noticed that glmark2 -b terrain was allocating a *lot* of memory for shader BOs.  Going through them, an obvious problem was that we were generating a lot of shaders for glGenerateMipmap().  A few weeks ago I improved performance on the benchmark by fixing glGenerateMipmap()'s fallback blits that we were doing because vc4 doesn't support the GL_TEXTURE_BASE_LEVEL that the gallium aux code uses.  I had fixed the fallback by making the shader do an explicit-LOD lookup of the base level if the GL_TEXTURE_BASE_LEVEL==GL_TEXTURE_MAX_LEVEL.  However, in the process I made the shader depend on that base level, so we would comple a new shader variant per level of the texture.  The fix was to make the base level into a uniform value that's uploaded per draw call, and with that change I dropped 572 shader variants from my shader-db results.

Reducing extra shaders was fun, so I set off on another project I had thought of before.  VC4's vertex shader to fragment shader IO system is a bit unusual in that it's just a FIFO of floats (effectively), with none of these silly "vec4"s that permeate GLSL.  Since I can take my inputs in any order, and more flexibility in the FS means avoiding register allocation failures sometimes, I have the FS compiler tell the VS what order it would like its inputs in.  However, the list of all the inputs in their arbitrary orders would be expensive to hash at draw time, so I had just been using the identity of the compiled fragment shader variant in the VS and CS's key to decide when to recompile it in case output order changed.  The trick was that, while the set of all possible orders is huge, the number that any particular application will use is quite small.  I take the FS's input order array, keep it in a set, and use the pointer to the data in the set as the key.  This cut 712 shaders from shader-db.

Also, embarassingly, when I mentioned tracking the FS in the CS's key above?  Coordinate shaders don't output anything to the fragment shader.  Like the name says, they just generate coordinates, which get consumed by the binner.  So, by removing the FS from the CS key, I trivially cut 754 shaders from shader-db.  Between the two, piglit's gl-1.0-blend-func test now passes instead of OOMing, so we get test coverage on blending.

Relatedly, while working on fixing a kernel oops recently, I had noticed that we were still reallocating the overflow BO on every draw call.  This was old debug code from when I was first figuring out how overflow worked.  Since each client can have up to 5 outstanding jobs (limited by Mesa) and each job was allocating a 256KB BO, we coud be saving a MB or so per client assuming they weren't using much of their overflow (likely true for the X Server).  The solution, now that I understand the overflow system better, was just to not reallocate and let the new job fill out the previous overflow area.

Other projects for the week that I won't expand on here: Debugging GPU hang in piglit glsl-routing (generated fixes for vc4-gpu-tools parser, tried writing a GFXH30 workaround patch, still not fixed) and working on supporting direct GLSL IR to NIR translation (lots of cleanups, a couple fixes, patches on the Mesa list).
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
12:54 pm
VC4/RPi3 status update
It's been a busy month.  I spent most of it working on the Raspberry Pi 3 support so I could have a working branch for upstream day 1.  That involved cleaning up the SDHOST driver for submission, cleaning up pinctrl DT, writing an I2C GPIO expander driver, debugging the I2C controller, fixing HDMI hotplug handling, debugging EMMC (not quite done!), scraping together some wireless firmware, and a bunch of work trying to get BT working on the UART.  I'm happy to say that on day 1 I published a branch that worked the same as a RPi2, and by the end of the day I had wireless working.  Some of the patches are now out for review, and I'll be working on cleaning up the rest in the near future.

For VC4, my big push recently has been to support some sort of panel.  Panels are really big with Raspberry Pi users, and it's the primary complaint I hear about the open driver.  The official 7" DSI touchscreen seems like the most promising device to support, since it doesn't hog all your GPIOs (letting me use my serial console) and it's quite popular.

Unfortunately, DSI isn't going well.  The DSI0 peripheral is responding to me, but while I can read from DSI1 it won't respond to any writes.  DSI1 is, unfortunately, the one that the RPi exposes on its DSI connector.  (Note: this debugging is with the panel up and running from the firmware's boot configuration).  Debug code is at drm-vc4-dsi-boot

So, since DSI1's not cooperating, I switched tasks.  I had also picked up a DPI panel using the Adafruit Kippah, and a little SPI-driven panel.  I hadn't started with DPI because hogging all the GPIOs makes kernel debugging a mostly black box experience.  The upside is that DPI is crazy simple -- set the GPIOs muxes to output from DPI, set one register in DPI, and use the same pixelvalve setup from before.  I was surprised when 2 days in I got display output.  Here it is, running HDMI and DPI at the same time:



Expect patches soon on a mailing list near you.  Until then, it's at drm-vc4-dpi-boot
Monday, December 14th, 2015
5:56 pm
vc4 status update 2015-12-14
Big news for the VC4 project today:

commit 21de54b3c4d08d2b20e80876c6def0b421dfec2e
Merge: 870a171 2146136
Author: Dave Airlie
Date: Tue Dec 15 10:43:27 2015 +1000

Merge tag 'drm-vc4-next-2015-12-11' of http://github.com/anholt/linux into drm-next


This is the last step for getting the VC4 driver upstream: Dave's pulled my code for inclusion in kernel 4.5 (probably to be released around mid-March).  The ABI is now stable, so I'm working on getting that ABI usage into the Mesa 11.1 release.  Hopefully I'll land that in the next couple of days.

As far as using it out of the box, we're not there yet.  I've been getting my code included in some builds for the Raspberry Pi Foundation developers.  They've been working on switching to kernel 4.2, and their tree has VC4 support up to the previous ABI.  Once the Mesa 11.1 merge happens, I'll ask them to pull the new kernel ABI and rebuild userspace using Mesa 11.1-rc4.  Hopefully this then appears in the next Raspbian Jessie build they produce.  Until that release happens, there are instructions for the development environment on the DRI wiki, and I'd recommend trying out the continuous integration builds linked from there.

The Raspberry Pi folks aren't ready to swap everyone over to the vc4 driver quite yet, though.  They want to make sure we don't regress functionality, obviously, and there are some big chunks of work left to do: HDMI audio support, video overlays, and integration of the vc4 driver with the camera and video decode support come time mind.  And then there's the matter of making sure that 3D performance doesn't suffer.  That's a bit hard to test, since only a few apps work with the existing GLES2 support, while the vc4 driver gives GLX, EGL-on-X11, EGL-on-gbm, most of GL2.1, and all of GLES2, but doesn't support the EGL-on-Dispmanx interface that the previous driver used.  So, until then, they're going to have a devicetree overlay that determines whether the firmware sets itself up for Linux using the vc4 driver or the closed driver.

Part of what's taken so long to get to this point has been trying to get my dependencies merged to the kernel.  To turn on V3D, I need to turn on power, which means a power domain driver.  Turning on the power required talking to the firmware, which required resurrecting an old patchset for talking to the firmware, which got bikeshedded harder than I've ever had happen to my code before.  Programming video modes required a clock driver.  Every step of the way is misery to get the code merged, and I would give up a lot to never work on the Linux kernel again.

Until then, though, I've become as Raspberry Pi kernel maintainer, so that I can ack other people's patches and help shepherd them into the kernel.  Hopefully for 4.5 I can get the aux clock driver bikeshedding dealt with and resubmit it, at which point people can use UART1 and SPI1/2.  I have a third rework to do of my power domain driver so that if we're lucky we can get it merged nad actually turn on the 3D core (and manage power of many other devices, too!).  Martin Sperl is doing a major rewrite of the SPI driver (an area I know basically nothing about), and his recent patch split may deal with the subsystem maintainer's concerns.  I want to pull in feedback and merge Lubomir's thermal driver.  There's also a cpufreq driver (for actually doing the overclocking you can set with config.txt) from Lubomir, which I expect to be harder to deal with the feedback on.

So, while I've been quiet on the blogging front, there's been a lot going on for vc4, and it's in pretty good shape now.  Hopefully more folks can give it a try as it becomes more upstreamed and accessible.
Sunday, October 19th, 2014
9:05 pm
VC4 driver status update
I've just spent another week hanging out with my Broadcom and Raspberry Pi teammates, and it's unblocked a lot of my work.

Notably, I learned some unstated rules about how loading and storing from the tilebuffer work, which has significantly improved stability on the Pi (as opposed to simulation, which only asserted about following half of these rules).

I got an intro on the debug process for GPU hangs, which ultimately just looks like "run it through simpenrose (the simulator) directly. If that doesn't catch the problem, you capture a .CLIF file of all the buffers involved and feed it into RTL simulation, at which point you can confirm for yourself that yes, it's hanging, and then you hand it to somebody who understands the RTL and they tell you what the deal is." There's also the opportunity to use JTAG to look at the GPU's perspective of memory, which might be useful for some classes of problems. I've started on .CLIF generation (currently simulation-environment-only), but I've got some bugs in my generated files because I'm using packets that the .CLIF generator wasn't prepared for.

I got an overview of the cache hierarchy, which pointed out that I wasn't flushing the ARM dcache to get my writes out into system L2 (more like an L3) so that the GPU could see it. This should also improve stability, since before we were only getting lucky that the GPU would actually see our command stream.

Most importantly, I ended up fixing a mistake in my attempt at reset using the mailbox commands, and now I've got working reset. Testing cycles for GPU hangs have dropped from about 5 minutes to 2-30 seconds. Between working reset and improved stability from loads/stores, we're at the point that X is almost stable. I can now run piglit on actual hardware! (it takes hours, though)

On the X front, the modesetting driver is now merged to the X Server with glamor-based X rendering acceleration. It also happens to support DRI3 buffer passing, but not Present's pageflipping/vblank synchronization. I've submitted a patch series for DRI2 support with vblank synchronization (again, no pageflipping), which will get us more complete GLX extension support, including things like GLX_INTEL_swap_event that gnome-shell really wants.

In other news, I've been talking to a developer at Raspberry Pi who's building the KMS support. Combined with the discussions with keithp and ajax last week about compositing inside the X Server, I think we've got a pretty solid plan for what we want our display stack to look like, so that we can get GL swaps and video presentation into HVS planes, and avoid copies on our very bandwidth-limited hardware. Baby steps first, though -- he's still working on putting giant piles of clock management code into the kernel module so we can even turn on the GPU and displays on our own without using the firmware blob.

Testing status:
- 93.8% passrate on piglit on simulation
- 86.3% passrate on piglit gpu.py on Raspberry Pi

All those opcodes I mentioned in the previous post are now completed -- sadly, I didn't get people up to speed fast enough to contribute before those projects were the biggest things holding back the passrate. I've started a page at http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/VC4/ for documenting the setup process and status.

And now, next steps. Now that I've got GPU reset, a high priority is switching to interrupt-based render job tracking and putting an actual command queue in the kernel so we can have multiple GPU jobs queued up by userland at the same time (the VC4 sadly has no ringbuffer like other GPUs have). Then I need to clean up user <-> kernel ABI so that I can start pushing my linux code upstream, and probably work on building userspace BO caching.
Friday, August 29th, 2014
1:33 pm
helping out with VC4
I've had a couple of questions about whether there's a way for others to contribute to the VC4 driver project.  There is!  I haven't posted about it before because things aren't as ready as I'd like for others to do development (it has a tendency to lock up, and the X implementation isn't really ready yet so you don't get to see your results), but that shouldn't actually stop anyone.

To get your environment set up, build the kernel (https://github.com/anholt/linux.git vc4 branch), Mesa (git://anongit.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa) with --with-gallium-drivers=vc4, and piglit (git://anongit.freedesktop.org/git/piglit).  For working on the Pi, I highly recommend having a serial cable and doing NFS root so that you don't have to write things to slow, unreliable SD cards.

You can run an existing piglit test that should work, to check your environment: env PIGLIT_PLATFORM=gbm VC4_DEBUG=qir ./bin/shader_runner tests/shaders/glsl-algebraic-add-add-1.shader_test -auto -fbo -- you should see a dump of the IR for this shader, and a pass report.  The kernel will make some noise about how it's rendered a frame.

Now the actual work:  I've left some of the TGSI opcodes unfinished (SCS, DST, DPH, and XPD, for example), so the driver just aborts when a shader tries to use them.  How they work is described in src/gallium/docs/source/tgsi.rst. The TGSI-to_QIR code is in vc4_program.c (where you'll find all the opcodes that are implemented currently), and vc4_qir.h has all the opcodes that are available to you and helpers for generating them.  Once it's in QIR (which I think should have all the opcodes you need for this work), vc4_qpu_emit.c will turn the QIR into actual QPU code like you find described in the chip specs.

You can dump the shaders being generated by the driver using VC4_DEBUG=tgsi,qir,qpu in the environment (that gets you 3/4 stages of code dumped -- at times you might want some subset of that just to quiet things down).

Since we've still got a lot of GPU hangs, and I don't have reset wokring, you can't even complete a piglit run to find all the problems or to test your changes to see if your changes are good.  What I can offer currently is that you could run PIGLIT_PLATFORM=gbm VC4_DEBUG=norast ./piglit-run.py tests/quick.py results/vc4-norast; piglit-summary-html.py --overwrite summary/mysum results/vc4-norast will get you a list of all the tests (which mostly failed, since we didn't render anything), some of which will have assertion failed.  Now that you have which tests were assertion failing from the opcode you worked on, you can run them manually, like PIGLIT_PLATFORM=gbm /home/anholt/src/piglit/bin/shader_runner /home/anholt/src/piglit/generated_tests/spec/glsl-1.10/execution/built-in-functions/vs-asin-vec4.shader_test -auto (copy-and-pasted from the results) or PIGLIT_PLATFORM=gbm PIGLIT_TEST="XPD test 2 (same src and dst arg)" ./bin/glean -o -v -v -v -t +vertProg1 --quick (also copy and pasted from the results, but note that you need the other env var for glean to pick out the subtest to run).

Other things you might want eventually: I do my development using cross-builds instead of on the Pi, install to a prefix in my homedir, then rsync that into my NFS root and use LD_LIBRARY_PATH/LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH on the Pi to point my tests at the driver in the homedir prefix.  Cross-builds were a *huge* pain to set up (debian's multiarch doesn't ship the .so symlink with the libary, and the -dev packages that do install them don't install simultaneously for multiple arches), but it's worth it in the end.  If you look into cross-build, what I'm using is rpi-tools/arm-bcm2708/gcc-linaro-arm-linux-gnueabihf-raspbian-x64/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc and you'll want --enable-malloc0returnsnull if you cross-build a bunch of X-related packages.
Thursday, August 21st, 2014
4:58 pm
X with glamor on vc4
Today I finally got X up on my vc4 driver using glamor.  As you can see, there are a bunch of visual issues, and what you can't see is that after a few frames of those gears the hardware locked up and didn't come back.  It's still major progress.
2014-08-21 16.16.37
The code can be found in my vc4 branch of mesa and linux-2.6, and the glamor branch of my xf86-video-modesetting.  I think the driver's at the point now that someone else could potentially participate.  I've intentionally left a bunch of easy problems -- things like supporting the SCS, DST, DPH, and XPD opcodes, for which we have piglit tests (in glean) and are just a matter of translating the math from TGSI's vec4 instruction set (documented in tgsi.rst) to the scalar QIR opcodes.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
5:41 pm
vc4 driver month 1
I've just pushed the vc4-sim-validate branch to my Mesa tree. It's the culmination of the last week's worth pondering and false starts since I got my first texture sampling in simulation last Wednesday.

Handling texturing on vc4 safely is a pain. The pointer to texture contents doesn't appear in the normal command stream, and instead it's in the uniform stream. Which uniform happens to contain the pointer depends on how many uniforms have been loaded by the time you get to the QPU_W_TMU[01]_[STRB] writes. Since there's no iommu, I can't trust userspace to tell me where the uniform is, otherwise I'd be allowing them to just lie and put in physical addresses and read arbitrary system memory.

This meant I had to write a shader parser for the kernel, have that spit out a collection of references to texture samples, switch the uniform data from living in BOs in the user -> kernel ABI and instead be passed in as normal system memory that gets copied to the temporary exec bo, and then do relocations on that.

Instead of trying to write this in the kernel, with a ~10 minute turnaround time per test run, I copied my kernel code into Mesa with a little bit of wrapper code to give a kernel-like API environment, and did my development on that. When I'm looking at possibly 100s of iterations to get all the validation code working, it was well worth the day spent to build that infrastructure so that I could get my testing turnaround time down to about 15 sec.

I haven't done actual validation to make sure that the texture samples don't access outside of the bounds of the texture yet (though I at least have the infrastructure necessary now), just like I haven't done that validation for so many other pointers (vertex fetch, tile load/stores, etc.). I also need to copy the code back out to the kernel driver, and it really deserves some cleanups to add sanity to the many different addresses involved (unvalidated vaddr, validated vaddr, and validated paddr of the data for each of render, bin, shader recs, uniforms). But hopefully once I do that, I can soon start bringing up glamor on the Pi (though I've got some major issue with tile allocation BO memory management before anything's stable on the Pi).
Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
1:02 am
VC4 driver week 1
It's been a week now, and I've made surprising amounts of progress on the project.

I came in with this giant task list I'd been jotting down in Workflowy (Thanks for the emphatic recommendation of that, Qiaochu!). Each of the tasks I had were things where I'd have been perfectly unsurprised if they'd taken a week or two. Instead, I've knocked out about 5 of them, and by Friday I had phire's "hackdriver" triangle code running on a kernel with a relocations-based GEM interface. Oh, sure, the code's full of XXX comments, insecure, and synchronous, but again, a single triangle rendering in a month would have been OK with me.

I've been incredibly lucky, really -- I think I had reasonable expectations given my knowledge going in. One of the ways I'm lucky is that my new group is extremely helpful. Some of it is things like "oh, just go talk to Dom about how to set up your serial console" (turns out minicom fails hard, use gtkterm instead. Also, someone else will hand you a cable instead of having to order one, and Derek will solder you a connector. Also, we hid your precious dmesg from the console after boot, sorry), but it extends to "Let's go have a chat with Tim about how to get modesetting up and running fast." (We came up with a plan that involves understanding what the firmware does with the code I had written already, and basically whacking a register beyond that. More importantly, they handed me a git tree full of sample code for doing real modesetting, whenever I'm ready.).

But I'm also lucky that there's been this community of outsiders reverse engineering the hardware. It meant that I had this sample "hackdriver" code for drawing a triangle with the hardware entirely from userspace, that I could incrementally modify to sit on top of more and more kernel code. Each step of the way I got to just debug that one step to go from "does not render a triangle" back to "renders that one triangle." (Note: When a bug in your command validator results in pointing the framebuffer at physical address 0 and storing the clear color to it, the computer will go away and stop talking to you. Related note: When a bug in your command validator results in reading your triangle from physical address 0, you don't get a triangle. It's like a I need a command validator for my command validator.).

https://github.com/anholt/linux/tree/vc4 is the code I've published so far. Starting Thursday night I've been hacking together the gallium driver. I haven't put it up yet because 1) it doesn't even initialize, but more importantly 2) I've been using freedreno as my main reference, and I need to update copyrights instead of just having my boilerplate at the top of everything. But next week I hope to be incrementally deleting parts of hackdriver's triangle code and replacing it with actual driver code.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
8:04 am
new job!
Yesterday was my first day working at Broadcom. I've taken on a new role as an open source developer there. I'm going to be working on building an MIT-licensed Mesa and kernel DRM driver for the 2708 (aka the 2835), the chip that's in the Raspberry Pi.

It's going to be a long process. What I have to work with to start is basically sample code. Talking to the engineers who wrote the code drops we've seen released from Broadcom so far, they're happy to tell me about the clever things they did (their IR is pretty cool for the target subset of their architecture they chose, and it makes instruction scheduling and register allocation *really* easy), but I've had universal encouragement so far to throw it all away and start over.

So far, I'm just beginning. I'm still working on getting a useful development environment set up and building my first bits of stub DRM code. There are a lot of open questions still as to how we'll manage the transition from having most of the graphics hardware communication managed by the VPU to having it run on the ARM (since the VPU code is a firmware blob currently, we have to be careful to figure out when it will stomp on various bits of hardware as I incrementally take over things that used to be its job).

I'll have repos up as soon as I have some code that does anything.
Sunday, January 5th, 2014
4:05 am
The X Test Suite
In the process of hacking on glamor, I got once again to the point of wondering how to test my changes. Sure, I can run some clients in Xephyr and wiggle windows around and see if things look good, but I'd like to be better than that.

Now, if you talk to any X developer about how to test your changes, they'll tell you to run the X Test Suite. This is them trolling you. Nobody runs the X Test Suite. They certainly don't themselves. While whot, dbn, Peter Harris, Kibi, and others did amazing work getting the ancient tree up to the point that it could be built by mortals, and run with "make run-tests", you ended up with a log saying "a bunch of things failed", and no idea what your implementation actually rendered. Selecting tests is awful, the reports tools are a mystery, and there are a million lame wrappers for executing tests (the best of which on the wikis was lost in the homedir backup failure, and the best keithp knows of lived only on his disk). If you do go looking at the error output, you see crap like this:


100 90 24
2328,0
100 90 24
25d,0
19,1
4b,0
19,1
4b,0
19,1
4b,0
19,1
4b,0
19,1
4b,0
19,1
4b,0
19,1
...


Does that look like an image to you? It didn't to me.

On the airplane to LCA, I set about fixing this. I grabbed piglit, which is my hammer for every case of "I've got a bunch of tests to run and compare between commits", and built a little test suite that takes a link to your built X Test Suite repository, finds all the tests in it, sets the environment for running them, and goes about running them. Then you get all the nice test filtering and spawning and results comparison of piglit.

Then, keithp dug into the error log format, and figured out that it's RLE encoded pixel values after a width/height/depth header, with a drawn image and a reference image in each log file (so that snippet above is "you got all 0 pixel values, when you should have had 0s with a 25-pixel-wide rectangle of 1s. Yes, 25."). From that, he built a tool to read those error logs and produce pairs of pngs with color values distributed around HSV. I run that tool on the output of the tests, save them off, and link them in the piglit summaries so you can actually see what your rendering did wrong, right next to the failure report.

I've ripped up our wiki stuff for the X Test Suite, which was full of ancient lies, and replaced it with: http://wiki.x.org/wiki/XorgTesting/
Thursday, August 8th, 2013
11:56 pm
megadrivers!
Mesa OpenGL drivers are mostly a big pile of common code, with a little bit of hardware-specific glue. Until not too long ago, Mesa drivers linked all the shared code into their DRI driver library – the thin libGL.so loaded the big fat whatever_dri.so.

Back in early 2011, Christopher James Halse Rogers (RAOF) upstreamed a change to Mesa that allowed building the big pile of shared code as a shared library, which the various drivers could link against, so that we had only one copy on disk. Looking at a build I've got here, my i965_dri.so is 967k and libdricore is 4390k – so for each driver sharing the libdricore, we saved about 4MB. It made a big difference to distros trying to ship install CDs.

The problem with this is that it means all of Mesa's symbols have to be public, so that the drivers can get to them. This means an application could accidentally call one of our symbols (or potentially override one of our symbols with theirs). Now, we do like to prefix our symbols to make that unlikely, but looking through the symbols exported, there are some scary ones. _math_matrix_translate()? I could see that conflicting. hash_table_insert()? Oh, I bet nobody's named a function that before.

The other problem with making all our symbols visible is that the compiler doesn't get to be smart for us. All of those calls from i965_dri.so into Mesa core are actual function calls, not inlined. They all produce relocations. We could contort our coding style to move inlineable code into headers at the expense of our sanity, but not having to manually inline is why we have optimizing compilers.

Enter megadrivers. What if we built all of the drivers together as a single .so?  I've hacked up a build of i965_dri.so to build all of the driver code in with the core. If all the drivers can do this, then we get all the benefits of sharing the built code, while also allowing link-time optimization, and the application can never accidentally look under the covers.

The tricky part here was the loader interface. There are two loaders: libGL.so.1, and the X Server. Both dlopen your dri.so and look for a symbol named __driDriverExtensions (actually, libGL.so.1 also looks for __driConfigOptions, used to support the driconf application). From the vtables in that structure, all of the rest of the driver gets called. Each driver needs a different copy of the symbol, to point to its own functions. So to do the i965 megadriver, I made a tiny i965_dri.so which has just:

0000000000200b20 D driDriverAPI
0000000000200e00 D __driDriverExtensions

for a total of 5.5k, and that links against the 4.6MB libmesa_dri_drivers9.3.0-devel.so, which exports:

00000000003fbcc0 R __dri2ConfigOptions
00000000002dc120 R __driConfigOptions
00000000002d522c T _fini
0000000000033a38 T _init
0000000000660a60 D _mesa_dri_core_extension
0000000000654fc0 D _mesa_dri_dri2_extension
00000000000ed300 T _mesa_dri_intel_allocate_buffer
00000000000eddd0 T _mesa_dri_intel_create_buffer
00000000000f6520 T _mesa_dri_intel_create_context
00000000000edc00 T _mesa_dri_intel_destroy_buffer
00000000000f5790 T _mesa_dri_intel_destroy_context
00000000000edc30 T _mesa_dri_intel_destroy_screen
00000000000ed3e0 T _mesa_dri_intel_init_screen
00000000000edc70 T _mesa_dri_intel_make_current
00000000000ed2e0 T _mesa_dri_intel_release_buffer
00000000000eddb0 T _mesa_dri_intel_unbind_context

With only one driver converted, this change is hardly an improvement over the previous state of affairs – now along with libdricore, you've got another copy of the core in libmesa_dri_drivers.so. I'll be working on converting other classic drivers next, so we can hopefully drop libdricore.

Initial performance results: Enabling LTO on a dricore build, I saw a -0.798709% +/- 0.333703% (n=30) effect on INTEL_NO_HW=1 cairo-gl runtime. On a megadrivers+LTO compared to non-megadrivers, non-LTO, the difference was -6.35008% +/- 0.675067% (n=10).

I think this is definitely promising

Now, there is at least one minor downside:  Your megadriver has to link against the shared library deps of all of the sub-drivers. That means you'll be runtime linking libdrm_radeon.so along with libdrm_intel.so, for example. There's very little overhead to that, so I'm willing to trade that off for runtime overhead reduction. But the Radeon guys are excited about LLVM, which has had issues with breaking applications due to mismatched symbols between LLVM-using apps and LLVM-using drivers, and I wouldn't want our driver to suffer if that's an ongoing issue. It may be that if there are problems like this, we need to segment into megadrivers-with-that-dep and megadrivers-without-that-dep, for hopefully just two copies of Mesa core, instead of N.

I'm headed off to debconf day after tomorrow, where I'll hopefully be talking with distro folks about this plan, and some ideas for how to get graphics driver updates out faster.
Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
7:44 pm
updated GPG key
Since I'm entering keysigning territory, I thought I'd finally get my GPG keys updated.  Details at http://anholt.net/~anholt/gpg-update-2013-08-03.txt.asc
Sunday, July 21st, 2013
5:34 pm
zambia notes (trip done)


Holy crap cellphones.

Seven years ago, when visitors were out at Chimfunshi, they were alone. No phones. No internet. The office (somewhere else on the ranch) had a packet radio they would fire up sometimes to do e-mail, but we didn't have access. It was just you and chimps and broken english or bemba to talk to the locals.

But when we stepped off of the bus at Muchinchi village this time (the nearest village to Chimfunshi), a man immediately walked up to us to offer help and the use of his cellphone. For $1, we got to use his phone to place about 5 calls to arrange our pickup from Chimfunshi, and this is a normal transaction for visitors to make here. On the way, as the bus passed through medium sized villages, probably ¼ of the buildings were painted with the colors and logo of Airtel, offering prepaid phone cards along with any other services (so you'd see restaurant/takeaway/phone shops, or general store/phone shops, or investment/phone shops, or barbershop/takeaway/phone shops). The prepaid phone cards apparently can be used for their face value in cash, because everyone needs them all the time and are always running at near empty.

Giving that guy $1 for phone usage and then being told he had to go disappear into the shop to refill it was I think the 4th time my sister and I looked at each other thinking “This is one of those things that sucker tourists fall for and he's going to disappear with our money, right?”, but as always it went wonderfully. There was only one scam that got we pressured for (a guy asking us for 4 units of some other currency for “tickets” while we were on the free-for-passengers Zambia/Botswana ferry, even though the women he bothered immediately before us didn't fall for it either, and we hadn't had to do that on the way over), but it was just too obvious. Anything that smelled just a little bit like a setup was fine.

It was also a relief that for the hour we stood around in Muchinchi, we didn't get hassled by a single vendor. In Livingstone (where we were staying on the Victoria Falls portion of the trip), and in Lusaka, the moment we white tourists exited any vehicle, there were immediately multiple vendors approaching us with the standard script:

“Hello what is your name? My name is X. Where are you from? I'm from the village of Y (never a city or even a significant town), do you know it? I would like to show you my crafts, these are things I make myself in my village...”

Finally our driver arrived, and my sister and I ended up riding in the back for the ~45min to the ranch. From the back of the truck, on the highway after dark, you could see more stars at once than I ever can at home in Oregon. At home I'm either in the city with all the light pollution or in the woods with trees in the way. But out here it's all dark because the power lines that crisscross the country never supply the little villages, and the land is flat and the trees are short. I think I would be willing to do a 11 hour bus ride again if I could get more of that.

Then at last were were at Chimfunshi, and things came back to me. Everyone sitting around the campfire for meals. Making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the kitchen for lunch when you're going to hike to the enclosures. No beer left because somehow the math of 24 students * X beers per student per day * Y days between shopping trips always comes out to “you needed more cases of beer”. Communication in the student group devolving into pant-hoots and food-grunts and clapping-and-pointing as we spend too much time around the chimps (turns out groups of students thrown together and exposed to the same stimuli will develop the same jokes!).

chimps
Delicious tungulus for the chimps

This trip, I split my time between hanging out with chimps, helping at the local school, and reading in camp. The chimps were almost as fascinating as last time – I spent many hours watching enclosure 4 (sinkie, nicky, commando, kambo, kit, ken, bobby, and a few others I never learned to identify). I spent less time watching enclosure 2 (with chimps I'd met last time – pal, tara, tobar, goliath, ingrid, ilse, lionel, etc.), mostly because ken was super cute to watch, especially when the older males like sinkie would roughhouse with him.

While chimps were slightly less intrinsically interesting this time, this was redeemed by the research going on that I don't remember during my previous trip. There was a group from Wisconsin that had a couple of research projects. One study was to throw in 50 peanuts, one every 30 seconds, and record who gets it. This let them determine dominance hierarchies, since chimps are awful at sharing (how many times did I see mothers steal food from their kids, or big males steal from whoever they felt like?). This provided objective information they wanted for interpreting their second study, which was to observe behavior when chimps were exposed to pant-hoots from chimpanzees they didn't know (i.e. recordings from the group down the road) as compared to recorded pant-hoots from groups they were accustomed to (the one across the road). Over the week I was there, there was apparently an increase in tension in the groups as they became concerned that their borders were being encroached upon. In one of the tests, I saw a group that was interrupted by a foreign call during feeding (it was unintentionally early) actually leave high-reward food and go single-file out into the bush to search the border for what chimp might have made that noise (one female stayed behind and had a *feast*, though).

The one piece of research I got to participate in was a mapping project of enclosure 4 done by the Gonzaga student group we were attached to. Humans don't generally go into the enclosures, except for about 20' near the buildings for doing a bit of maintenance, so it's hard to see how much the chimps actually use their ~1km square enclosures. One day, all the chimps were brought in, and we got to transfer through inside, in ~6 groups of 3, to try to hand-map the trails through the enclosure (why didn't we just use GPS? Poor planning, there.). We visitors tend to arrive around mealtime at the buildings, so we have a biased view of the chimps spending all their time next to the human structure waiting for food. But what we found out there was a massive network of trails all throughout the enclosure, even in this oddball group that does less normal nesting behavior than enclosures 1-3 do.

The exciting chimp event while we were there was Milla's escape. While most chimps at Chimfunshi were rescued at a young age when they were being smuggled to be sold as pets, a few like Milla are more human socialized. She's an older chimp who before Chimfunshi was kept at a bar, smoking and drinking hilariously for patrons. So she had some different expectations from the more wild chimps, like having a blanket to sleep with, and drinking her water from bottles. She also was a much better problem solver, and while in the large outdoor enclosures she had figured out to take a long branch, prop it up on the electric fence, and climb on out. As a result, she'd been locked in a ~10'x10' cage so that she couldn't escape, and more importantly, couldn't teach the other chimps to escape. However, during a moment of confusion, her door was opened into another cage section, and thus she got out into the enclosure after feeding. The keepers expected her to try to escape, and sure enough she soon found a branch, and moseyed on up it and out into the world.

Since the keepers expected this, they had a video camera along for what would happen next, whih was mostly walking, sitting, looking around, and walking again. The only tense moment captured was when she made a big display dragging a wheelbarrow around by one hand. At one point she went to the keepers' hut where they make the nshima (maize meal) balls that are one of the food supplements for the chimps (this is not their native habitat, and I think the enclosures are too small to support the groups even if it was). She found the pots, put water in the pot, stirred the pot, and sampled the water from a spoon, as if she was cooking. She also did something that I think was mimicking washing dishes with one of the plates. Eventually one of the keepers got close enough to her to give a sedative injection by hand, at which point she was finally transferred to enclosure 5 where the 3 other escape artists live. This is a small enclosure more like you'd see at a zoo, with reinforced bars they can't break through and locks protected from being pried off, but at least now Milla gets friends and sun and things to climb again.

The school was fascinating. It was started 6 years ago, after my family started making earmarked donations for a teacher's salary. Teaching is done in English officially, though a lot of communication was in Bemba (the local language in this region). The morning class was ~7 students at the advanced level (averaging 5 present per day) who had some limited English and school skills, though there appeared to be a lot of rote learning. They could read and copy off the board, and sometimes respond to questions that had very structured answers, but open-ended questions went worse than in my sister's kindergarten classes. The afternoon class was the beginning 54 students, and it was chaos. How do you teach kids from age 4-12 all in one classroom? Especially when you don't have the ability to make copies, so you can't set one group up to work independently while doing something with another group of students at a different level. It looked like a lot of time at least half the class was just bored – either not understanding, or doing work they knew long ago. Still, it's better than before, when these kids were just playing around all day. Some are even going on to study in other schools and “make something of themselves” (the teacher is big on encouraging kids to become something more than subsistence farmers, and apparently has been successful at motivating many), and he's had some success in discouraging girls from pregnant at a young age.

class

"Mary wore her red dress" song in class

My mom and sister spent a lot of time writing and constructing reusable classroom materials. I was brought in as a cutter and contact-paperer. Previously the classroom materials consisted of a single badly designed curriculum book of each grade, 3 maps, faded posters of English color words, posters of English month and day names, and a few vocabulary-related posters that previous student groups had made. We added a reusable calendar, materials for doing songs to teach English, some posters for doing grammar lessons, and a string with clothespins in front so the posters could be temporarily hung up while doing a lesson.

The big news for the school while we were there was that Innocent (the Zambian general manager at Chimfunshi) successfully petitioned the government to recognize the collection of people that live next to Chimfunshi as a real village. With being a real village comes the support for having a school, which means that they'll have two teachers at 10x the salary our donation was providing. With that support, they'll be able to split the classes and more effectively teach, but also be able to get more classroom materials that are direly needed.

baboon
A student being groomed by a drunken baboon at the barbecue.
Seriously, people, hold on to your drink or the baboon will take it.

I'm now in Barcelona for the biking portion of my sabbatical. I'd like to thank daniels for hanging on to my bike whlie I was in Zambia, which saved outrageous amounts of money on shipping it that I would have had to do otherwise.

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