Stateless, layered, multi-threaded rendering – Part 2: Stateless API Design

Continuing where we left off last time, today I want to present a few ideas about how to design the API that enables us to do stateless rendering.

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Stateless, layered, multi-threaded rendering – Part 1

In this post, I would like to describe what features and performance characteristics I want from a modern rendering system: it should support stateless rendering, rendering in different layers/buckets, and rendering that can run in parallel on as many cores as are available.

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A blast from the past

I recently came across several old projects I did almost 20 years ago, and thought about how to preserve them so they aren’t lost again. I already believed them to be lost once, until a classmate approached me and told me what he had found on some of the old floppy disks he had lying around.

And what better place is there to conserve things than the internet?

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Schema-based entity-component data for fast iteration times

Serialization, reflection, and other mechanisms are often used for saving data in an editor or a tool like the asset pipeline, and then loading that data into the engine at run-time. This process is well-known, flexible, and allows us to store the data in any format conceivable. Still, all those techniques show certain weaknesses when it comes to keeping iteration times to an absolute minimum.

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Translating a human-readable JSON-like data format into C++ structs

Even though Molecule’s run-time engine exclusively uses binary files without doing any parsing, the asset pipeline uses a human-readable non-binary format for storing pretty much everything except raw asset files like textures or models. This post explains the process behind translating data from such a human-readable format into actual instances of C++ structs with very little setup code required.

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Implementing a semi-automatic structure-of-arrays data container

In performance-sensitive applications like games it is crucial to access data in a cache-friendly manner. Especially when dealing with a large number of objects of the same type, e.g. individual components in an entity-component-architecture, we should make sure to read as little data as possible. However, simple arrays-of-structures are often not suited for this, with structures-of-arrays yielding better performance. But the latter are not natively supported by the C++ language.

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