Real is just another four-letter word – Cypher

After RT-START, there are at least four threads:

SCRATCH> (rt-start)
SCRATCH> (bt:all-threads)
(#<SB-THREAD:THREAD "audio-rt-thread" RUNNING {1002B48093}>
 #<SB-THREAD:THREAD "audio-fast-nrt-thread" RUNNING {1002DDCC33}>
 #<SB-THREAD:THREAD "audio-nrt-thread" RUNNING {1002DDCB23}>
 #<SB-THREAD:THREAD "main thread" RUNNING {1002B3C723}>)

where "audio-rt-thread" is the real-time thread used by JACK and "nrt" means "non-real-time".

There are four utilities for lock-free synchronization (single producer single consumer):

  1. from nrt thread to rt-thread: (rt-funcall fn)
  2. from rt-thread to nrt-thread: (nrt-funcall fn)
  3. from fast-nrt-thread to rt-thread: (fast-rt-funcall fn)
  4. from rt-thread to fast-nrt-thread: (fast-nrt-funcall fn)

The sync from any (non rt) thread to fast-nrt-thread (multiple producers single consumer) is implemented with a spinlock. For example:

  1. Send an event from "main thread" to "audio-rt-thread"; the road is

    "main thread" -> "audio-fast-nrt-thread" -> "audio-rt-thread"
              (spinlock)                 (lock free)

    Generally, we use the macro RT-EVAL and forget the details:

    (rt-eval (&key return-value-p) &body form)

    We use AT for real-time scheduling (see Getting Start - Part 1):

    (at time function &rest args)
  2. Send an event from "audio-rt-thread" (i.e. from a running synth) to "any-nrt-thread"

    "audio-rt-thread" -> "audio-nrt-thread" -> "any-thread"
                 (lock free)        (spinlock or mutex)

    Generally, we use NRT-FUNCALL for the first step (from rt to nrt) and an arbitrary synchronization from nrt to any-nrt.

A loop of calls to AT

(dotimes (i n) (at ...))

from a nrt-thread is inefficient (it depends on N), because there are N spinlocks plus N memory barriers (and/or CAS). The simplest solution is to eval that loop in real-time:

(rt-eval () (dotimes (i n) (at ...)))

It requires just 1 spinlock plus 1 memory barrier. Now we have N calls to AT in rt-thread, that means N loops to fill the EDF (Earliest Deadline First) real-time heap.

We can set the configuration variable *RT-EDF-HEAP-SIZE* in ${HOME}/.incudinerc to specify the max number (a power of two) of scheduled events in real-time (the default is 1024).

The macro WITH-SCHEDULE is useful to schedule a lot of events in real-time by optimizing the insertion into the real-time queue.

  (dotimes (i n) (at ...)))

A temporary EDF heap is filled in a non-real-time thread, then the events (sorted by time) of that heap are copied to the real-time EDF heap by using one or a few loops (it depends on the old content of the rt queue).

We can configure the pool of the EDF heaps in ${HOME}/.incudinerc. The defaults are:

;; Pool size of the temporary EDF heaps.
(setq *edf-heap-pool-size* 2)

;; New EDF heaps to add when the pool is empty.
(setq *edf-heap-pool-grow* 1)

The function returned from REGOFILE->FUNCTION uses WITH-SCHEDULE, for example:

SCRATCH> (load (compile-file "/path/to/incudine/doc/tutorials/texture.cudo"))

SCRATCH> (regofile->function "/path/to/incudine/doc/tutorials/texture1.sco"

SCRATCH> (rt-start)
SCRATCH> (texture-test)

texture1.sco contains about 1380 events, so if you don't hear all the sounds, probably the value associated with the configuration variable *RT-EDF-HEAP-SIZE* is 1024. In this case, change that value (i.e. 2048) and restart Incudine.

Here is another example:

(dsp! ringhio (freq gain dur)
  (with-samples ((amp (db->lin gain))
                 (dt (* dur 4/5 (spb *tempo*))))
      (reduce-warnings (at (+ (now) #[dur beats]) #'free (dsp-node))))
    (stereo (* amp (ringz (impulse) freq dt)))))

(defun ringhiera ()
    (loop for i below 10 by .1 do
         ;; Note: we start from time zero because we are filling
         ;; a temporary queue.
         (at #[i beats] #'ringhio (* 440 (1+ i)) -12
             (+ 3 (max -10/4 (* i -1/4)))))))

;; The duration of 1 beat is 1/10 sec.
SCRATCH> (setf (spb *tempo*) 1/10)
SCRATCH> (bpm *tempo*)

;; 100 scheduled events where the duration between two events is 10 ms.
SCRATCH> (ringhiera)

;; Reset tempo and stop real-time.
SCRATCH> (setf (bpm *tempo*) 60)
SCRATCH> (rt-stop)

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