Sorry about planet.fd.o pollution...
I'll stop playing with the Blogger tags now...
It comes as no surprise that Gallium3D is a large and complex piece of software. So I've decided to write a bit about it in the hope of helping newcomers to get more quickly familiarized with it.
A few adverts: I had little to do with Gallium3D's design — that's the work of much brighter people such as Keith Whitwell and Brian Paul — so a lot of the rationale written here is partly my own speculation; also Gallium3D architecture is still under flux (much less than before, but still), so this refers to its current state.
Gallium3D architecture can be described as a set of interfaces and a collection of supporting libraries.
Gallium3D is not a framework. All attempts of using the Hollywood Principle of "Don’t call us, we’ll call you." for 3D driver development imply making assumptions about the hardware behavior which quickly are proven wrong as new hardware generations come along. Instead, by simply providing a set of libraries, Gallium3D's can more easily adapt in this rapidly evolving field. So Gallium3D's principle is indeed "Is up to you to call us, as we won't call you". Is is necessary to have this principle in mind to understand how all Gallium pieces fit together.
(1) The state tracker depends on the graphics API, so it can be made OS-independent for OS-independent APIs (such as OpenGL), but not for OS-dependent APIs (such as Direct3D)
The higher the module is in the previous table the more it is reused (auxiliary modules,State Tracker). The lower it is, more times it will have to be rewritten (Winsys). Although the dividing line between these modules is blurry, we are always interested in moving functionality upwards as much as possible. This is one of the areas where Gallium3D architecture is under flux: when we support a new graphics hardware, graphics API, or OS and realize that there is some functionality that can be generalized then we move it upwards; if we realize that previously made assumptions no longer hold, then we move that functionality downwards.
The data flow is actually quite simple to understand:
The graphics state and primitives created in the application are successively broken down in things more close to the hardware as they progress in the pipe line. One of Gallium3D's biggest achievement is defining a set of interfaces that allows the central piece -- the pipe driver --, to be reused in different graphics APIs and OSes.
If you zoom up the microscope one level, you can detect two extra (auxiliary) modules:
That's all for today. Hopefully soon I'll write a bit more about these modules in more detail. I actually started my way in Gallium3D from Winsys and only recently started working on the State tracker, so there is some studying left to do.
Until then, to learn more about Gallium3D see: