[FFmpeg-devel] [PATCH] avcodec: disallow hwaccel with frame threads

Hendrik Leppkes h.leppkes at gmail.com
Fri Oct 23 13:54:25 CEST 2015

HWAccels with frame threads are fundamentally flawed in avcodecs current
design, and there are several known problems ranging from image corruption
to driver crashes.

These problems come down to two design problems in the interaction of
threads and HWAccel decoding:

While avcodec prevents parallel decoding and as such simultaneous access
to the hardware accelerator from the decoding threads, it cannot account
for the user code and its access to the hardware surfaces and the hardware

This can result in image corruption or even driver crashes if the
user code locks image surfaces while they are being used by the decoder
threads as reference frames.

The current HWAccel API does not offer any way to ensure exclusive access
to the hardware or the surfaces if frame threading is used.

Initialization of the HWAccel with frame threads is non-trivial, and many
decoders had and still have issues that cause excess calls to the
get_format callback.

This will potentially cause duplicate HWAccel initialization, which in
extreme cases can even lead to driver crashes if the HWAccel is
re-initialized while the user code is actively accessing the hardware
surfaces associated with it, or lead to image corruption due to lost
reference frames.

While both of these issues are solvable, fixing (1) would at least require
a huge API redesign which would move a lot of complexity into the user

The only reason the combination of frame threads and HWAccel was
considered useful is to allow a seamless fallback to multi-threaded
software decoding if the HWAccel is not available, however the issues
outlined above far outweight this.

The proper solution for a fallback is to re-open the AVCodecContext with
threading enabled if the HWAccel failed, which is a practice commonly used
by various user applications using avcodec today already.

Reviewed-by: Gwenole Beauchesne <gb.devel at gmail.com>
Reviewed-by: wm4 <nfxjfg at googlemail.com>
Signed-off-by: Hendrik Leppkes <h.leppkes at gmail.com>
 libavcodec/utils.c | 6 ++++++
 1 file changed, 6 insertions(+)

diff --git a/libavcodec/utils.c b/libavcodec/utils.c
index 83a2078..6a58056 100644
--- a/libavcodec/utils.c
+++ b/libavcodec/utils.c
@@ -1007,6 +1007,12 @@ static int setup_hwaccel(AVCodecContext *avctx,
     AVHWAccel *hwa = find_hwaccel(avctx->codec_id, fmt);
     int ret        = 0;
+    if (avctx->active_thread_type & FF_THREAD_FRAME) {
+        av_log(avctx, AV_LOG_ERROR,
+               "Hardware accelerated decoding with frame threading is not supported.\n");
+        return AVERROR(EINVAL);
+    }
     if (!hwa) {
         av_log(avctx, AV_LOG_ERROR,
                "Could not find an AVHWAccel for the pixel format: %s",

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