Shader Storage Buffer Object

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Shader Storage Buffer Object
Core in version 4.4
Core since version 4.3
Core ARB extension ARB_shader_storage_buffer_object

A Shader Storage Buffer Object is a Buffer Object that is used to store and retrieve data from within the OpenGL Shading Language.

SSBOs are a lot like Uniform Buffer Objects. Shader storage blocks are defined by Interface Block (GLSL)s in almost the same way as uniform blocks. Buffer objects that store SSBOs are bound to SSBO binding points, just as buffer objects for uniforms are bound to UBO binding points. And so forth.

The major differences between them are:

  1. SSBOs can be much larger. The smallest required UBO size is 16KB; the smallest required SSBO size is 16MB, and typical sizes will be on the order of the size of GPU memory.
  2. SSBOs are writable, even atomically; UBOs are uniform​s. SSBOs reads and writes use incoherent memory accesses, so they need the appropriate barriers, just as Image Load Store operations.
  3. SSBOs can have unbounded storage, up to the buffer range bound; UBOs must have a specific, fixed storage size. This means that you can have an array of arbitrary length in an SSBO. The actual size of the array, based on the range of the buffer bound, can be queried at runtime in the shader using the length​ function on the unbounded array variable.

Functionally speaking, SSBOs can be thought of as a much nicer interface to Buffer Textures when accessed via Image Load Store.

Shader specification

Atomic operations

There are special atomic functions that can be applied to buffer variables (and also to compute shader shared​ variables). They only take uint​ or int​ types, but these can be members of aggregates (structs/arrays) or vector elements (ie: you can atomically access uvec3.x​).

V · E

All of the atomic functions return the original value. The term "nint" can be int​ or uint​.

nint atomicAdd(inout nint mem​, nint data​)

Adds data​ to mem​.

nint atomicMin(inout nint mem​, nint data​)

The mem​'s value is no lower than data​.

nint atomicMax(inout nint mem​, nint data​)

The mem​'s value is no greater than data​.

nint atomicAnd (inout nint mem​, nint data​)

mem​ becomes the bitwise-and between mem​ and data​.

nint atomicOr(inout nint mem​, nint data​)

mem​ becomes the bitwise-or between mem​ and data​.

nint atomicXor(inout nint mem​, nint data​)

mem​ becomes the bitwise-xor between mem​ and data​.

nint atomicExchange(inout nint mem​, nint data​)

Sets mem​'s value to data​.

nint atomicCompSwap(inout nint mem​, nint compare​, nint data​)

If the current value of mem​ is equal to compare​, then mem​ is set to data​. Otherwise it is left unchanged.

OpenGL usage