I recently posted about a feature I developed for VKMS to consider the alpha channel in the composition of the cursor plane with the primary plane. This process took a little longer than expected, and now I can identify a few reasons:

  • Beginner: I had little knowledge of computer graphics and its operations
  • Maybe cliché: I did not consider that in the subsystem itself, there was already material to aid coding.
  • The unexpected: the test cases that checked the composition of a cursor considering the alpha channel were successful, even with a defect in the implementation.

IGT GPU Tools has two test cases in kms_cursor_crc to check the cursor blend in the primary plane: the cursor-alpha-opaque and the cursor-alpha-transparent. These two cases are structured in the same way, changing only the value of the alpha channel - totally opaque 0xFF or totally transparent 0x00.

In a brief description, the test checks the composition as follows:

  1. Creates a XRGB primary plane framebuffer with black background
  2. Creates a ARGB framebuffer for cursor plane with white color and a given alpha value (0xFF or 0x00)
  3. Enables the cursor on hardware and captures the plane’s CRC after composition. (hardware)
  4. Disables the cursor on hardware, draws a cursor directly on the primary plane and capture the CRC (software)
  5. Compares the two CRCs captured: they must have equal values.

After implementing alpha blending using the straight alpha formula in VKMS, both tests were successful. However, the equation was not correct.

To paint, IGT uses the library Cairo. For primary plane, the test uses CAIRO_FORMAT_RGB24 and CAIRO_FORMAT_ARGB32 for the cursor. According to documentation, the format ARGB32 stores the pixel color in the pre-multiplied alpha representation:


each pixel is a 32-bit quantity, with alpha in the upper 8 bits, then red, then
green, then blue. The 32-bit quantities are stored native-endian.
Pre-multiplied alpha is used. (That is, 50% transparent red is 0x80800000, not
0x80ff0000.) (Since 1.0)

In a brief dialogue with Pekka about endianness on DRM, he showed me information from the DRM documentation that I didn’t know about. According to it, DRM converges with the representation used by Cairo:

Current DRM assumption is that alpha is premultiplied, and old userspace can
break if the property defaults to anything else.

It is also possible to find information about DRM’s Plane Composition Properties, such as the existence of pixel blend mode to add a blend mode for alpha blending equation selection, describing how the pixels from the current plane are composited with the background.

Finally, you can find there the pre-multiplied alpha blending equation:

out.rgb = plane_alpha * fg.rgb + (1 - (plane_alpha * fg.alpha)) * bg.rgb

From this information, we see that both IGT and DRM use the same representation, but the current test cases of kms_cursor_crc do not show the defect in using the straight-alpha formula.

With this in mind, I think of refactoring the test cases so that they could validate translucent cursors and “remove some zeros” from the equation. After shared thoughts with my mentor, Siqueira, I decided to combine the two testcases (cursor-alpha-opaque and cursor-alpha-transparent) into one and refactor them so that the testcase verifies not only extreme alpha values, but also translucent values.

Therefore, the submitted test case proposal follows this steps:

  1. Creates a XRGB primary plane framebuffer with black background
  2. Create a ARGB framebuffer for cursor plane and enables the cursor on hardware.
  3. Paints the cursor with white color and a range of alpha value (from 0xFF to 0x00)
  4. For each alpha value, captures the plane’s CRC after composition in a array of CRC’s. (hardware)
  5. Disables the cursor on hardware.
  6. Draws cursor directly on the primary plane following the same range of alpha values (software)
  7. Captures the CRC and compares it with the CRC in the array of hardware CRC’s: they must have equal values.
  8. Clears primary plane and go to step 5.

The code sent: tests/kms_cursor_crc: refactoring cursor-alpha subtests

CI checks did not show any problems, so I am expecting some human feedback :)