Thursday, April 23, 2015

Optimizing Emscripten SDL 1 settings

Emscripten's SDL tries to emulate desktop SDL. This involves some costly operations which many programs don't need. Performance can be improved by changing settings to prevent those operations.

Consider the multiple copies

The image exists in 3 places in the web page: program memory, canvas ImageData, and the canvas element. Normally, SDL_LockSurface() copies from the canvas, to ImageData and then to program memory, and SDL_UnlockSurface() copies from program memory to ImageData and to the canvas. Conversion may be needed between program memory and ImageData.

SDL.defaults.copyOnLock = false

SDL_LockSurface() will copy from canvas to ImageData but not from ImageData into program memory.

SDL.defaults.discardOnLock = true

SDL_LockSurface() will use createImageData() once to initially create ImageData, and never copy from the canvas. Copying from ImageData to program memory is prevented regardless of SDL.defaults.copyOnLock.

SDL.defaults.opaqueFrontBuffer = false

With normal SDL you can write only the RGB values and get opaque pixels of the requested colour. Canvas pixels also have an alpha value, which needs to be set to 255 to make pixels fully opaque.

Normally, both SDL_LockSurface() and SDL_UnlockSurface() set alpha values in ImageData to 255. This option prevents those operations. With it, the SDL_HWPALETTE 8 bpp mode works normally, your code that writes pixels into memory must set the alpha values. You can simply bitwise or pixels with Amask from the surface SDL_PixelFormat.

Use SDL_HWPALETTE flag for 8 bpp modes

It's possible to use 8 bpp without SDL_HWPALETTE. However, that uses less optimized code when converting to 32 bpp for the canvas, and doesn't work with SDL.defaults.opaqueFrontBuffer = false.

SDL_HWPALETTE requires that SDL_LockSurface() copying is disabled. 8 bpp modes without the flag don't have that requirement, but you'll end up with 32 bpp RGB values copied back, which you probably don't want.

Module.screenIsReadOnly = true

This prevents SDL_LockSurface() copying. You could use it instead of SDL.defaults.discardOnLock = true. The only difference is that ImageData is copied from the canvas the first time SDL_LockSurface() is called instead of being created via createImageData(). It's probably better to use the SDL.defaults options instead because they're better documented and better named.

Sample code

Here is a code fragment which sets uses the recommended optimization settings and enters 8 bpp mode in the recommended way. Some of this is redundant as noted above, but there's no harm in that.

    SDL.defaults.copyOnLock = false;
    SDL.defaults.discardOnLock = true;
    SDL.defaults.opaqueFrontBuffer = false;
surface = SDL_SetVideoMode(WIDTH, HEIGHT, 8, SDL_HWPALETTE);

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