[FFmpeg-devel] Shared Thread Pool

wm4 nfxjfg at googlemail.com
Thu Apr 12 19:23:39 EEST 2018

On Thu, 12 Apr 2018 12:08:50 -0400
Malcolm Bechard <malcolm.bechard at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hey,
> I'd like to restart the conversation about a Shared Thread Pool in FFmpeg.
> I found a past conversation about it here:
> https://ffmpeg.org/pipermail/ffmpeg-devel/2016-January/186770.html.
> As far as I can tell there isn't a thread pool in FFmpeg so far, but I
> apologize if this has been solved already and I missed the solution.
> One of the contentious issues in that last conversation seems to be that
> there was few real-world examples where FFmpegs current behavior of
> spawning new threads for each decoder would cause issues. I'll provide
> another example:
> Live music shows often have a VJ (video jockey) that is performing live
> along with the performer/band. This is particularly true for electronic
> music, but is becoming more and more common for other music styles as well.
> The application the VJ uses allows them to choose from banks of
> pre-rendered video, and blend/mix the layers of video in real time. What
> video is going to be played is selected in real-time by the VJ depending on
> what they currently want to show the audience, based on what the performer
> is doing.
> To make this possible, the app will need to have a large bank of videos
> already open and ready to play. 50+. These videos can not be opened when
> the VJ decides to play them, the 100ms+ of time it takes to open a video
> and allocate resources is far too slow for a real-time performance. So
> although they aren't playing 50+ videos at the same time, all of the
> resources those videos need to be played at an instants notice needs to be
> allocated already. So, using a thread pool will greatly reduce the number
> of threads that need to be allocated here.
> The 50 videos they have in one bank is only one bank of many they have.
> They may want to switch banks and load up another set of 50 videos. Not
> having to spawn/kill new threads for every video that is opened will
> improve the performance of opening and closing of videos when switching
> banks.
> Most importantly though, decode performance. Since H264/H265 is not a
> constant-time decoder, it's impossible to know for sure how many threads
> you need for your video to be able to play it back in real time. Some may
> require 8, some may require 1, depending on the video content. To be safe
> the app should assign enough threads for a worst-case decode at that
> particular resolution. The VJ can mix all kinds of different videos at the
> same time, multiple 4K videos, a mix of 1080p and 4K videos, some even
> smaller ones. It could be 2-4 heavy files or 12 light ones, or anything in
> between. Without a thread pool this causes heavy oversubscription to the
> CPU cores, reducing performance. Avoiding oversubscription is exactly why
> most modern parallel applications utilize thread pools.
> To be clear, this usage case is already happening, and has been happening
> for a long time. Adding thread pool support will push the limits of what
> this use case can do even further. Yes, the need is there for that.
> Is there any interest in adding thread pool capabilities to FFmpeg? If I
> was to take on this work, would it be accepted into the code base? Ideally
> the API would be such that the host application could provide it's own
> thread pool to be used (using callbacks), to avoid having two thread pools
> allocated (and contending with each other for the cores).
> I'm perfectly fine with this being entirely optional, and programming it in
> such a way that the existing threading workflow stays functional, if there
> is a desire for that.

I think the most contentious issue (apart from the pointless flame that
was not about how to implement it) was that there should be no global
thread pool. If a shared thread pool is e.g. explicitly set on an
AVCodecContext which should use it, that would be fine by me.

Whether or not such a shared pool helps with anything is a different

More information about the ffmpeg-devel mailing list