News Column

Patent Issued for Course Grain Command Buffer

June 19, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- A patent by the inventors McCrary, Rex (Oviedo, FL); Liljeros, Frank (Sanford, FL); Cheng, Gongxian Jeffrey (Toronto, CA), filed on September 9, 2010, was published online on June 3, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8743131 is assigned to Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention generally relates to switching between processes in a processing unit.

"During operation, embedded programs within a processing unit, such as a graphics processing unit (GPU), known as software schedulers, read content, such as data packets from the GPU's command buffers to perform graphics processing tasks. The performance of these tasks routinely requires the software to switch from reading of the contents of one command buffer to begin reading, or executing, content from another command buffer. Conventional GPUs, however, cannot efficiently switch from one process to another, and then resume the earlier process. This switching inefficiency produces system latencies, ultimately resulting in slower system performance and reduced user control.

"What is needed, therefore, are methods and systems to efficiently enable software schedulers to determine which command buffers' content should be read, and to efficiently switch between these various buffers and processes. What are also needed are methods and systems to reduce system latency and increase the control of scheduling to a program running on the GPU."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The present invention meets the above-described needs. For example, an embodiment of the present invention provides a means to preempt the source stream on a GPU on a command boundary, save that state away, commence another process behind it, and resume the original process later.

"An embodiment of the present invention includes a method for executing processes within a computer system. The method includes determining when to switch from a first process, executing within the computer system, to executing another process. Execution of the first process corresponds to a computer system storage location. The method also includes switching to executing the other process based upon a time quantum and resuming execution of the first process after the time quantum has lapsed, the resuming corresponding to the storage location.

"Embodiments of the present invention provide mechanisms for efficiently tracking, storing, and restoring locations of processes occurring within a processing unit's command buffer. These mechanisms enable a command processor to essentially stop the execution of a process, in the middle of a command buffer, begin execution of a different process, return to the same location in the command buffer, and resume executing the earlier process. As a result, the command processor can switch from one task, such as processing a lower priority process, to another task, such as processing a higher priority process with significantly reduced pre-emption times, reduced system latency, and greater user control.

"Further features and advantages of the invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings. It is noted that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described herein. Such embodiments are presented herein for illustrative purposes only. Additional embodiments will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) based on the teachings contained herein."

URL and more information on this patent, see: McCrary, Rex; Liljeros, Frank; Cheng, Gongxian Jeffrey. Course Grain Command Buffer. U.S. Patent Number 8743131, filed September 9, 2010, and published online on June 3, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Software, Advanced Micro Devices Inc..

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Source: Computer Weekly News

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