Basic Performance Diagnostics

Introductory Performance Diagnostics

In Panda3D, the “big gun” of performance analysis is called pstats. This program gives you real-time diagnostic analysis of a running Panda3D virtual world broken down into hundreds of different categories.

But sometimes, when you’ve just encountered a problem, you don’t want that much information. Sometimes, you just want a simple question answered, like “how many meshes do I have,” or “is this a fill-rate problem?” For simple questions like that, there are lots of things you can do to get a quick-and-dirty answer.

The Frame-Rate Meter

The frame-rate meter doesn’t tell you why your program is running slow, but it does have one important purpose: it’s a lightweight and unobtrusive utility that you can leave on throughout the entire development process. This is valuable in that it gives you immediate feedback when you do something inefficient. To turn on the frame-rate meter, put this in your config file:

show-frame-rate-meter #t

Or, if you want to have it set at run-time:

PT(FrameRateMeter) meter;
meter = new FrameRateMeter("frame_rate_meter");

The Scene Analyzer

If a scene needs to be rendered and has multiple nodes, Panda has to send each node to the graphics hardware as a separate batch of polygons (because the nodes might move independently, or have different state changes on them). Modern graphics hardware hasn’t made any improvements recently in handling large numbers of batches, just in handling large numbers of polygons per batch. So if a scene is composed of a large number of nodes with a small number of polygons per node, the frame rate will suffer. This problem is not specific to Panda; any graphics engine will have the same problem. The problem is due to the nature of the PC and the AGP bus.

For example, though your graphics card may claim it can easily handle 100,000 polygons, this may be true in practice only if all of those polygons are sent in one batch–that is, just a single Geom. If, however, your scene consists of 1,000 nodes with 100 polygons each, it may not have nearly as good a frame rate.

To inspect performance the NodePath.analyze() method is extremely useful. For example:

SceneGraphAnalyzer sga;

The response is printed to the command window. It may look something like this:

371 total nodes (including 43 instances).
21 transforms; 16% of nodes have some render attribute.
205 Geoms, with 94 GeomVertexDatas, appear on 133 GeomNodes.
21665 vertices, 21573 normals, 21557 texture coordinates.
35183 triangles:
   3316 of these are on 662 tristrips (5.00906 average tris per strip).
   0 of these are on 0 trifans.
   31867 of these are independent triangles.
0 lines, 0 points.
99 textures, estimated minimum 326929K texture memory required.

For a scene with many static nodes there exists a workaround.

If a scene is composed of many static objects, for example boxes, and the intent of all of these boxes to just sit around and be part of the background, or to move as a single unit, they can flattened together into a handful of nodes (or even one node). To do this, parent them all to the same node, and use:


One thing that flatten_strong() won’t touch is geometry under a ModelRoot or ModelNode node. Since each egg or bam file loads itself up under a ModelRoot node, the proper way to handle this is to get rid of that node first to make the geometry from multiple different egg files to be flattened together. This can be done with the following:

NodePath model = window->load_model(framework.get_models(), "myModel.egg");
NodePath new_model("model");