A new week, a new assignment. This week I get to optimize a piece of code that renders a “glass” ball on a background, letting through some of the color hidden in the background image. Puzzling on my own and talking to classmates helped in creating code which I couldn’t get any faster. I’ve learned a lot doing this and discussing it with peers.

The initial code draws a colorful landscape with a black & white overdraw on it, making it a greyscale and darker image. The ball samples pixels from the colorful version of the image. The goal of this week’s assignment is to optimize using several rules of thumb, “Get rid of expensive operations”, “Precalculate”, “Use the power of 2”, “Avoid conditional jumps”, and “Get out early”. High-level optimizations were not specifically required, but makes the code a lot faster. I will show both versions of “Game.cpp”, mine and the unoptimized one.

*This is how the glass-ball effect looks.*

The initial code was written by my teacher, Jacco Bikker, for the NHTV, and is intended to be optimized. The most relevant bit is in the “Game.cpp” and is as follows.

[code language=”cpp”]#include "game.h"

#include "surface.h"

using namespace Tmpl8;

// ———————————————————–

// Scale a color (range: 0..128, where 128 is 100%)

// ———————————————————–

inline unsigned int ScaleColor( unsigned int orig, char scale )

{

const Pixel rb = ((scale * (orig & ((255 << 16) + 255))) >> 7) & ((255 << 16) + 255);

const Pixel g = ((scale * (orig & (255 << 8))) >> 7) & (255 << 8);

return (Pixel)rb + g;

}

// ———————————————————–

// Draw a glass ball using fake reflection & refraction

// ———————————————————–

void Game::DrawBall( int bx, int by )

{

Pixel* dst = m_Surface->GetBuffer() + bx + by * m_Surface->GetPitch();

Pixel* src = m_Image->GetBuffer();

for ( int x = 0; x < 128; x++ )

{

for ( int y = 0; y < 128; y++ )

{

float dx = (float)(x – 64);

float dy = (float)(y – 64);

int dist = (int)sqrt( dx * dx + dy * dy );

if (dist < 64)

{

int xoffs = (int)((dist / 2 + 10) * sin( (float)(x – 50) / 40.0 ) );

int yoffs = (int)((dist / 2 + 10) * sin( (float)(y – 50) / 40.0 ) );

int u1 = (((bx + x) – 4 * xoffs) + SCRWIDTH) % SCRWIDTH;

int v1 = (((by + y) – 4 * yoffs) + SCRHEIGHT) % SCRHEIGHT;

int u2 = (((bx + x) + 2 * xoffs) + SCRWIDTH) % SCRWIDTH;

int v2 = (((by + y) + 2 * yoffs) + SCRHEIGHT) % SCRHEIGHT;

Pixel refl = src[u1 + v1 * m_Image->GetPitch()];

Pixel refr = src[u2 + v2 * m_Image->GetPitch()];

int reflscale = (int)(63.0f – 0.015f * (1 – dist) * (1 – dist));

int refrscale = (int)(0.015f * (1 – dist) * (1 – dist));

dst[x + y * m_Surface->GetPitch()] =

ScaleColor( refl, 41 – (int)(reflscale * 0.5f) ) + ScaleColor( refr, 63 – refrscale );

float3 L = Normalize( float3( 60, -90, 85 ) );

float3 p = float3( (x – 64) / 64.0f, (y – 64) / 64.0f, 0 );

p.z = sqrt( 1.0f – (p.x * p.x + p.y * p.y) );

float d = min( 1, max( 0, Dot( L, p ) ) );

d = powf( d, 140 );

Pixel highlight = ((int)(d * 255.0f) << 16) + ((int)(d * 255.0f) << 8) + (int)(d * 255.0f);

dst[x + y * m_Surface->GetPitch()] = AddBlend( dst[x + y * m_Surface->GetPitch()], highlight );

}

}

}

}

// ———————————————————–

// Initialize the game

// ———————————————————–

void Game::Init()

{

m_Image = new Surface( "testdata/mountains.png" );

m_BallX = 100;

m_BallY = 100;

m_VX = 1.6f;

m_VY = 0;

}

// ———————————————————–

// Draw the backdrop and make it a bit darker

// ———————————————————–

void Game::DrawBackdrop()

{

m_Image->CopyTo( m_Surface, 0, 0 );

Pixel* src = m_Surface->GetBuffer();

unsigned int count = m_Surface->GetPitch() * m_Surface->GetHeight();

for ( unsigned int i = 0; i < count; i++ )

{

src[i] = ScaleColor( src[i], 20 );

int grey = src[i] & 255;

src[i] = grey + (grey << 8) + (grey << 16);

}

}

// ———————————————————–

// Main game tick function

// ———————————————————–

void Game::Tick( float a_DT )

{

m_Surface->Clear( 0 );

DrawBackdrop();

DrawBall( (int)m_BallX, (int)m_BallY );

m_BallY += m_VY;

m_BallX += m_VX;

m_VY += 0.2f;

if (m_BallY > (SCRHEIGHT – 128))

{

m_BallY = SCRHEIGHT – 128;

m_VY = -0.96f * m_VY;

}

if (m_BallX > (SCRWIDTH – 138))

{

m_BallX = SCRWIDTH – 138;

m_VX = -m_VX;

}

if (m_BallX < 10)

{

m_BallX = 10;

m_VX = -m_VX;

}

}[/code]

I will not dive in too much depth on what the pieces of the code does, but Init runs once, Tick runs every frame, DrawBackdrop draws the dark and grey overlay on top of the bright coloured landscape, which is visible through the ball drawn with DrawBall. The things to optimize will be drawing the background (with currently DrawBackdrop) and DrawBall. I did not pay attention to memory usage, as that isn’t the intention of the excersize. This is the code that I ended up with:

[code language=”cpp”]#include "game.h"

#include "surface.h"

#include <iostream>

#include <time.h>

using namespace Tmpl8;

Surface* imageWithBackdrop;

// ———————————————————–

// Scale a color (range: 0..128, where 128 is 100%)

// ———————————————————–

inline unsigned int ScaleColor( unsigned int orig, int scale )

{

const Pixel rb = ((scale * (orig & ((255 << 16) | 0xFF))) >> 7) & ((255 << 16) + 255);

const Pixel g = ((scale * (orig & (255 << 8))) >> 7) & (255 << 8);

return (Pixel)rb + g;

}

// ———————————————————–

// Draw a glass ball using fake reflection & refraction

// ———————————————————–

const float3 L = Normalize(float3(60, -90, 85));

unsigned int imageWidth;

unsigned int imageHeight;

int distances[128 * 128];

Pixel highlights[128 * 128];

int xOffs[128 * 128];

int yOffs[128 * 128];

int reflScales[128 * 128];

int refrScales[128 * 128];

const static int pitch = SCRWIDTH;

#define BALLS 100

struct Ball

{

float m_X, m_Y, m_VX, m_VY;

};

Ball balls[BALLS];

void Game::DrawBall( int bx, int by )

{

static Pixel* src = m_Image->GetBuffer();

Pixel* dst = m_Surface->GetBuffer() + bx + by * m_Surface->GetPitch();

for (int y = 0; y < 128; ++y )

{

for ( int x = 0; x < 128; ++x )

{

unsigned int index = (y << 7) + x;

if (distances[index] < 64)

{

unsigned int u1 = ((((bx + x) – (xOffs[index] << 1)) + imageWidth) << 22) >> 22;

unsigned int v1 = ((((by + y) – (yOffs[index] << 1)) + imageHeight) << 22) >> 12;

unsigned int u2 = (((bx + x) + xOffs[index] + imageWidth) << 22) >> 22;

unsigned int v2 = (((by + y) + yOffs[index] + imageHeight) << 22) >> 12;

Pixel refl = src[u1 + v1]; //Reflection

Pixel refr = src[u2 + v2]; //Refraction

dst[x + y * pitch] =

AddBlend(

ScaleColor(refl, reflScales[index]) + ScaleColor(refr, refrScales[index]),

highlights[index]

);

}

}

}

}

// ———————————————————–

// Draw the backdrop and make it a bit darker

// ———————————————————–

void Game::DrawBackdrop()

{

m_Image->CopyTo(m_Surface, 0, 0);

Pixel* src = m_Surface->GetBuffer();

unsigned int count = m_Surface->GetPitch() * m_Surface->GetHeight();

for (unsigned int i = 0; i < count; i++)

{

src[i] = ScaleColor(src[i], 20);

int grey = src[i] & 255;

src[i] = grey + (grey << 8) + (grey << 16);

}

}

void DrawBackground(Surface* a_Target)

{

memcpy(a_Target->GetBuffer(), imageWithBackdrop->GetBuffer(),

imageWithBackdrop->GetPitch() * imageWithBackdrop->GetHeight() * sizeof(Pixel));

}

// ———————————————————–

// Initialize the game

// ———————————————————–

#define TEST_ITERATIONS 512

void Game::Init()

{

srand((unsigned int)time(0));

m_Image = new Surface("testdata/mountains.png");

imageWidth = m_Image->GetWidth();

imageHeight = m_Image->GetHeight();

for (int y = 0; y < 128; y++)

{

float dy = (float)(y – 64);

for (int x = 0; x < 128; x++)

{

float dx = (float)(x – 64);

int dist = (int)sqrt(dx * dx + dy * dy);

distances[y * 128 + x] = dist;

}

}

for(int y = 0; y < 128; y++)

{

int dy = y – 64;

float pY = dy / 64.0f;

for (int x = 0; x < 128; x++)

{

xOffs[y * 128 + x] = (int)(((distances[y * 128 + x] >> 1) + 10) * sin((x – 50) / 40.0f));

xOffs[y * 128 + x] <<= 1;

yOffs[y * 128 + x] = (int)(((distances[y * 128 + x] >> 1) + 10) * sin((y – 50) / 40.0f));

yOffs[y * 128 + x] <<= 1;

reflScales[y * 128 + x] = (int)(63.0f – 0.015f * (1 – distances[y * 128 + x]) * (1 – distances[y * 128 + x]));

reflScales[y * 128 + x] = 41 – (reflScales[y * 128 + x] >> 1);

refrScales[y * 128 + x] = (int)(0.015f * (1 – distances[y * 128 + x]) * (1 – distances[y * 128 + x]));

refrScales[y * 128 + x] = 63 – refrScales[y * 128 + x];

float3 p((x – 64) / 64.0f, pY, 0);

p.z = sqrt(1.0f – (p.x * p.x + p.y * p.y));

float d = Dot(L, p);

if (d > 0.96f) //Approximate value, anything below this doesn’t affect the highlight.

{

d = min(1, max(0, d));

d = pow(d, 140);

auto di = (int)(d * 255.0f);

Pixel highlight = (di << 16) + (di << 8) + di;

highlights[y * 128 + x] = highlight;

}

else

{

highlights[y * 128 + x] = 0;

}

}

}

for (int i = 0; i < BALLS; i++)

{

balls[i].m_X = (float)(80 + rand()%(SCRWIDTH-230));

balls[i].m_Y = (float)(16 + rand() % (SCRHEIGHT – 230));

balls[i].m_VX = 1.6f;

balls[i].m_VY = 0;

}

DrawBackdrop();

imageWithBackdrop = new Surface(m_Surface->GetPitch(), m_Surface->GetHeight());

memcpy(imageWithBackdrop->GetBuffer(), m_Surface->GetBuffer(),

m_Surface->GetPitch() * m_Surface->GetHeight() * sizeof(Pixel));

unsigned long long timings[TEST_ITERATIONS];

for (int iterations = 0; iterations < TEST_ITERATIONS; iterations++)

{

TimerRDTSC timer;

timer.Start();

DrawBall(300, 300);

timer.Stop();

timings[iterations] = timer.Interval();

}

unsigned long long total = 0;

for (int i = 0; i < TEST_ITERATIONS; i++)

{

total += timings[i];

}

total /= TEST_ITERATIONS;

std::cout << total << " is average for DrawBall\n";

TimerRDTSC timer;

timer.Start();

DrawBackground(m_Surface);

timer.Stop();

std::cout << timer.Interval() << std::endl;

}

// ———————————————————–

// Main game tick function

// ———————————————————–

void Game::Tick( float a_DT )

{

DrawBackground(m_Surface);

for (int i = 0; i < BALLS; i++)

{

DrawBall((int)balls[i].m_X, (int)balls[i].m_Y);

balls[i].m_X += balls[i].m_VX;

balls[i].m_Y += balls[i].m_VY;

balls[i].m_VY += 0.2f;

if (balls[i].m_Y >(SCRHEIGHT – 128))

{

balls[i].m_Y = SCRHEIGHT – 128;

balls[i].m_VY = -0.96f * balls[i].m_VY;

}

if (balls[i].m_X > (SCRWIDTH – 138))

{

balls[i].m_X = SCRWIDTH – 138;

balls[i].m_VX = -balls[i].m_VX;

}

if (balls[i].m_X < 10)

{

balls[i].m_X = 10;

balls[i].m_VX = -balls[i].m_VX;

}

}

}[/code]

## Background

I started off with the background, which was rendering slow due to the DrawBackdrop every frame. The background image never changes, which means drawing the backdrop only once on a copy of the landscape and then drawing that pre-rendered surface as background would save me quite some cycles. I moved the call to DrawBackdrop to the Init-function and drew that to a new surface.

This saved me a lot of cycles. The cycles on itself don’t say a lot, but in comparison to optimized results, they do. Going from 100 to 10 cycles would be 10 times faster, while 100 itself doesn’t give any valuable information away. The rendering of the background with the backdrop costed me about 1871784 cycles on average (on 10 tests). The optimized DrawBackground, using the pre-rendered surface and memcpy, uses roughly 285000 cycles on average (on 512 tests). This is about **15.2%** of the unoptimized version. Clearing the screen wasn’t necessary, so that line is removed in the final code.

## The Ball

For the optimizations performed on drawing the ball, I will discuss the before mentioned topics. The original code uses 4912748 cycles on average for 512 tests. The optimized version uses about 433500 on average, with 512 tests. That means there’s only **8.8%** left of the cost!

### Get rid of expensive operations (and use the power of 2)

The original code uses a lot of expensive operations. Most of that stuff can be precalculated, which is what I went for. I did try some other ideas before I started to move those calculations to the Init function. Here’s a short list of things I’ve figured out, some with help of my classmates.

**Changing “powf” to “pow” gives an enormous reduction in cycles.**This is because “pow” takes an integer as power and “powf” takes a float, which is a lot harder to calculate. Since the input is 140, it could just be an integer.**Reducing the calls to “pow” increases performance a lot.**“pow” is still quite expensive, so we’d want to reduce its use as much as we can. The code using “pow” draws a specular highlight on the ball, but that’s just a small dot. Doing “pow” for every pixel while only about 5% should need it is a waste. I approximated a number of about 0.96 (depending on the power), where every result of the Dot-product higher than that will draw a pixel for the specular highlight. 96% less calls to “pow” is great.**The distance calculations were faster with floats.**I didn’t expect this, since integer operations are practically always faster. But, I read somewhere that the compiler might use SIMD to optimize floating-point operations, making it a lot faster. This is why you should always test and record, instead of blindly changing code which you think might run faster.**Modulo is slow.**It can be used to have looping textures, but the operation is slow. The original code used modulo on the window width, but it sampled colours (for refraction and reflection) from the image provided with the project. The fortunate thing is that the background image has a dimension of 1024×640. Since 1024 is a power of 2, you can use a logical and operator (&) to scrape off the bits not included in the 1024-range, making it wrap neatly. This speeds up the code enormously, since it saves two modulo calls per pixel per ball. The height isn’t a power of two, but we can adjust the image to make it so. Using PhotoShop, I padded the height to 1024, repeating the image for sampling purposes. Now I can do the same thing with the height, removing all uses of modulo.**Bitshifting is faster than logical and (&).**In the previous list item, I removed the modulo calls, by replacing them with logical ands, greatly increasing speed. But, since we’re only using the first 10 bits, we can shift 22 bits to the left, truncating all those bits and then shifting them back to get the wrapped value between 0 and 1023. This saved several thousand cycles on average.**int-float conversions are slow.**“(int)(reflscale * 0.5f)” converts “reflscale” to a float to do the multiplication and then converts that back to an int. Since 0.5 is a reciprocal of a power of 2, we can just use a bitshift to divide the number by 2. “reflscale >> 1” does the job perfectly and is a lot faster.

### Precalculate

Precalculating most stuff was what gave the biggest improvements in cycle reduction. I’ve moved almost everything, apart from the sampling from the background, to the Init functions and made it accessible by array indices.

I started precalculating stuff when I noticed the “sin()” calls always used a number of 0 to 128 as arguments. I created an array of precalculated sines and referenced to that, giving a great boost in speed. I wanted to do the same for the distances, using an array of 64×64, because the distances are the same for all quadrants of the circle. This gave me an off-by-one error, making the code draw 2 unwanted lines. Since memory usage wasn’t the focus, I figured I could just use 128×128 arrays for the calculations, avoiding calls to “abs()”.

After this, I sat down with a classmate, talking about which optimizations we used and soon figured out that practically everything can be cached quite easily. The entire specular highlight can be saved in an array, getting rid of “sqrt()”-calls, “pow”-calls, “sin()”-calls, and floats in the rendering of each ball every frame. The highlight-array is basically just an overlay for the ball, blended with “AddBlend()”. All the heavy code is now in the Init-function, basically leaving only integer arithmetic, sampling from an image, blending, and bitshifting in the DrawBall-function. Pre-rendering every possible position for a ball could also be a solution, but having 800×600 pre-rendered balls in memory isn’t a neat solution in my opinion.

### Avoid conditional jumps

Unrolling my loops would probably speed things up, but I read that the compiler unrolls the loops automatically. An old forum post a user states that the Visual C++ compiler unwinds loops where possible to increase performance. My project settings are set to produce the fastest code (opposed to the smaller code option).

### Get out early

The “Get out early”-principle basically means to break the loop if the rest of the iterations aren’t helpful anymore. I tested code which broke the X-loop after it drew the last pixel of that row. Unfortunately, the checks for these last pixels increased the amount of cycles more than it saved, which is why I don’t break the loop.

## Conclusion

The core of this optimization challenge was precalculation (caching) and getting rid of expensive function calls. I got the ball to render more than 10 times as fast and I can run the program drawing 100 balls on screen with over 30 FPS on my laptop. I’m happy with the result, yet it frustrates me a little bit that I can’t find anything else in that piece of code to optimize, but I guess I’ll learn more ways to do that in future lectures. Thanks for reading!

Try swapping the for loops around – for (y) and the for (x). It saves a few clock-ticks again, since it reads the memory more efficient.

Never mind, I didn’t look at the code before commenting. ðŸ™‚

Haha no problem, thanks for the suggestion anyway ðŸ˜€ It was probably one of the first things I did to the ball rendering