User-mode work submission


Some information relates to a prerelease product which may be substantially modified before it's commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here.

This article describes the user-mode (UM) work submission feature that is still under development as of Windows 11, version 24H2 (WDDM 3.2). UM work submission enables applications to submit work to the GPU directly from user mode with very low latency. The goal is to improve performance of applications that submit small workloads frequently to the GPU. In addition, user-mode submission is expected to significantly benefit such applications if they're running inside a container or virtual machine (VM). This benefit is because the user-mode driver (UMD) running in the VM can directly submit work to the GPU without having to send a message to the host.

IHV drivers and hardware that support UM work submission must continue to support the traditional kernel-mode work submission model simultaneously. This support is necessary for scenarios such as an older guest that supports only traditional KM queues running on a latest host.

This article doesn't discuss UM submission interoperability with Flip/FlipEx. UM submission described in this article is limited to render only/compute class of scenarios. The presentation pipeline continues to be based on kernel-mode submission for now as it has a dependency on native monitored fences. The design and implementation of UM submission based presentation can be considered once native monitored fences and UM submission for compute/render only are fully implemented. Hence, drivers should support user mode submission on a per queue basis.


Most current or upcoming generations of GPUs that support hardware scheduling also support the concept of a GPU doorbell. A doorbell is a mechanism to indicate to a GPU engine that new work is queued in its work queue. Doorbells are typically registered in the PCIe BAR (base address bar) or system memory. Each GPU IHV has their own architecture that determines the number of doorbells, where they're located in the system, and so forth. The Windows OS uses doorbells as part of its design to implement UM work submission.

At a high level there are two different models of doorbells implemented by different IHV and GPUs:

  • Global doorbells

    In the Global Doorbells model, all the hardware queues across contexts and processes share a single global doorbell. The value written into the doorbell informs the GPU scheduler about which particular hardware queue and engine has new work. The GPU hardware uses a form of a polling mechanism to fetch work if multiple hardware queues are actively submitting work and ringing the same global doorbell.

  • Dedicated doorbells

    In the dedicated doorbell model, each hardware queue is assigned its own doorbell that is rung whenever there's new work to be submitted to the GPU. When a doorbell is rung, the GPU scheduler knows exactly which hardware queue submitted new work. There are limited doorbells that are shared across all hardware queues created on the GPU. If the number of hardware queues created exceeds the number of available doorbells, the driver needs to disconnect the doorbell of an older or least recently used hardware queue and assign its doorbell to a newly created queue, effectively "virtualizing" doorbells.

Discovering user-mode work submission support


For GPU nodes that support the UM work submission feature, KMD's DxgkDdiGetNodeMetadata sets the UserModeSubmissionSupported node metadata flag that is added to DXGK_NODEMETADATA_FLAGS. The OS then allows UMD to create user-mode submission HWQueues and doorbells only on nodes for which this flag is set.


To query doorbell-specific information, the OS calls KMD's DxgkDdiQueryAdapterInfo function with the DXGKQAITYPE_USERMODESUBMISSION_CAPS query adapter info type. KMD responds by populating a DXGK_USERMODESUBMISSION_CAPS structure with its support details for user-mode work submission.

Currently, the only cap required is the doorbell memory size (in bytes). Dxgkrnl needs the doorbell memory size for a couple of reasons:

  • During doorbell creation (D3DKMTCreateDoorbell), Dxgkrnl returns a DoorbellCpuVirtualAddress to UMD. Before doing so, Dxgkrnl first needs to internally map to a dummy page because the doorbell isn't yet assigned and connected. The size of the doorbell is needed to allocate the dummy page.
  • During doorbell connect (D3DKMTConnectDoorbell), Dxgkrnl needs to rotate the DoorbellCpuVirtualAddress to a DoorbellPhysicalAddress provided by KMD. Again, Dxgkrnl needs to know the doorbell size.

D3DDDI_CREATEHWQUEUEFLAGS::UserModeSubmission in D3DKMTCreateHwQueue

UMD sets the added UserModeSubmission flag added to D3DDDI_CREATEHWQUEUEFLAGS for creating HWQueues that use the user-mode submission model. HWQueues created using this flag can't use the regular kernel-mode work submission path and must rely on the doorbell mechanism for work submission on the queue.

User-mode work submission APIs

The following user-mode APIs are added to support user-mode work submission.

  • D3DKMTCreateDoorbell creates a doorbell for a D3D HWQueue for user-mode work submission.

  • D3DKMTConnectDoorbell connects a previously created doorbell to a D3D HWQueue for user-mode work submission.

  • D3DKMTDestroyDoorbell destroys a previously created doorbell.

  • D3DKMTNotifyWorkSubmission notifies the KMD that new work was submitted on a HWQueue. The point of this feature is a low latency work submission path, where KMD isn't involved or aware when work is submitted. This API is useful in scenarios where the KMD needs to be notified whenever work is submitted on a HWQueue. Drivers should use this mechanism in specific and infrequent scenarios because it involves a round trip from UMD to KMD on every work submission, thus defeating the purpose of a low latency user-mode submission model.

Residency model of doorbell memory and ring buffer allocations

  • UMD is responsible for making the ring buffer and ring buffer control allocations resident before creating a doorbell.
  • UMD manages the lifetime of the ring buffer and ring buffer control allocations. Dxgkrnl won't destroy these allocations implicitly even if the corresponding doorbell is destroyed. UMD is responsible for allocating and destroying these allocations. However, to prevent a malicious user-mode program from destroying these allocations while the doorbell is alive, Dxgkrnl does take a reference on them during the lifetime of the doorbell.
  • The only scenario in which Dxgkrnl destroys ring buffer allocations is during device termination. Dxgkrnl destroys all HWQueues, doorbells, and ring buffer allocations associated with the device.
  • As long as the ring buffer allocations are alive, the ring buffer CPUVA is always valid and available for UMD to access, irrespective of the doorbell connections status. That is, ring buffer residency isn't tied to the doorbell.
  • When KMD makes the DXG callback to disconnect a doorbell (that is, calls DxgkCbDisconnectDoorbell with status D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_DISCONNECTED_RETRY), Dxgkrnl rotates the doorbell CPUVA to a dummy page. It doesn't evict or unmap the ring buffer allocations.
  • In the event of any device-lost scenarios (TDR/GPU Stop/Page, etc.), Dxgkrnl disconnects the doorbell and marks the status as D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_DISCONNECTED_ABORT. User mode is responsible for destroying the HWQueue, doorbell, ring buffer, and for re-creating them. This requirement is similar to how other device resources are destroyed and re-created in this scenario.

Hardware context suspension

When the OS suspends a hardware context, Dxgkrnl keeps the doorbell connection active and ring buffer (work queue) allocation resident. In this way, UMD can continue queuing work to the context; this work just doesn’t get scheduled while the context is suspended. Once the context is resumed and scheduled, the GPU's context management processor (CMP) observes the new write pointer and work submission.

This logic is similar to current kernel-mode submission logic, where UMD can call D3DKMTSubmitCommand with a suspended context. Dxgkrnl enqueues this new command to the HwQueue but it just doesn’t get scheduled until a later time.

The following sequence of events occurs during hardware context suspend and resume.

  • Suspending a hardware context:

    1. Dxgkrnl calls DxgkddiSuspendContext.
    2. KMD removes all HWQueues of the context from the HW scheduler’s list.
    3. Doorbells are still connected and ring buffer/ring buffer control allocations are still resident. The UMD can write new commands to the HWQueue of this context, but the GPU won’t process them, which is similar to today’s kernel-mode command submission to a suspended context.
    4. If KMD chooses to victimize the doorbell of a suspended HWQueue, then UMD loses its connection. UMD can attempt to reconnect the doorbell and KMD will assign a new doorbell to this queue. The intention is to not stall the UMD, but rather to allow it to continue submitting work that the HW engine can eventually process once the context is resumed.
  • Resuming a hardware Context:

    1. Dxgkrnl calls DxgkddiResumeContext.
    2. KMD adds all HWQueues of the context to HW scheduler’s list.

Engine F-state transitions

In traditional kernel-mode work submission, Dxgkrnl is in charge of submitting new commands to the HWQueue and monitoring completion interrupts from KMD. For this reason, Dxgkrnl has a complete view of when an engine is active and idle.

In user-mode work submission, Dxgkrnl monitors whether a GPU engine is making progress using TDR timeout cadence, so if it's worthwhile to initiate a transition to F1 state sooner than in the two-second TDR timeout, the KMD can request the OS to do so.

The following changes were made to facilitate this approach:

  • The DXGK_INTERRUPT_GPU_ENGINE_STATE_CHANGE interrupt type is added to DXGK_INTERRUPT_TYPE. KMD uses this interrupt to notify Dxgkrnl of engine state transitions that require a GPU power action or timeout recovery such as Active -> TransitionToF1 and Active -> Hung.

  • The EngineStateChange interrupt data structure is added to DXGKARGCB_NOTIFY_INTERRUPT_DATA.

  • The DXGK_ENGINE_STATE enum is added to represent the engine state transitions for EngineStateChange.

When KMD raises a DXGK_INTERRUPT_GPU_ENGINE_STATE_CHANGE interrupt with EngineStateChange.NewState set to DXGK_ENGINE_STATE_TRANSITION_TO_F1, Dxgkrnl disconnects all doorbells of HWQueues on this engine and then initiates an F0 to F1 power component transition.

When the UMD attempts to submit new work to the GPU engine in F1 state, it needs to reconnect the doorbell, which in turn causes Dxgkrnl to initiate a transition back to the F0 power state.

Engine D-state transitions

During a D0 to D3 device power state transition, Dxgkrnl suspends the HWQueue, disconnects the doorbell (rotating the doorbell CPUVA to a dummy page), and updates the DoorbellStatusCpuVirtualAddress doorbell status to D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_DISCONNECTED_RETRY.

If UMD calls D3DKMTConnectDoorbell when the GPU is in D3, it forces Dxgkrnl to wake up the GPU to D0. Dxgkrnl is also responsible for resuming the HWQueue and rotating the doorbell CPUVA to a physical doorbell location.

The following sequence of events takes place.

  • A D0 to D3 GPU power down occurs:

    1. Dxgkrnl calls DxgkddiSuspendContext for all HW contexts on the GPU. KMD removes these contexts from the HW scheduler list.
    2. Dxgkrnl disconnects all doorbells.
    3. Dxgkrnl possibly evicts all Ring Buffer/Ring Buffer Control allocations from VRAM if necessary. It does so once all contexts are suspended and removed from the hardware scheduler's list so that hardware doesn’t reference any evicted memory.
  • UMD writes a new command to a HWQueue when the GPU is in D3 state:

    1. UMD sees doorbell is disconnected, so calls D3DKMTConnectDoorbell.
    2. Dxgkrnl initiates a D0 transition.
    3. Dxgkrnl makes all Ring Buffer/Ring Buffer Control allocations resident if they were evicted.
    4. Dxgkrnl calls KMD's DxgkddiCreateDoorbell function to request that KMD make a doorbell connection for this HWQueue.
    5. Dxgkrnl calls DxgkddiResumeContext for all HWContexts. KMD adds the corresponding queues to the HW scheduler’s list.

DDIs for user-mode work submission

KMD-implemented DDIs

The following kernel-mode DDIs are added for KMD to implement user-mode work submission support.

Dxgkrnl-implemented DDI

The DxgkCbDisconnectDoorbell callback is implemented by Dxgkrnl. KMD can call this function to notify Dxgkrnl that KMD needs to disconnect a particular doorbell.

HW queue progress fence changes

Hardware queues running in the UM work submission model still have a concept of a monotonically increasing progress fence value that UMD generates and writes when a command buffer is completed. In order for Dxgkrnl to know whether a particular hardware queue has pending work, the UMD needs to update the queued progress fence value just before appending a new command buffer to the ring buffer and making it visible to the GPU. CreateDoorbell.HwQueueProgressFenceLastQueuedValueCPUVirtualAddress is a read/write user-mode process mapping of the latest queued value.

It's essential for the UMD to ensure the queued value is updated right before the new submission is made visible to the GPU. The following steps are the recommended sequence of operations. They assume the HW queue is idle and the last finished buffer had a progress fence value of N.

  • Generate a new progress fence value N+1.
  • Fill out the command buffer. The last instruction of the command buffer is a progress fence value write to N+1.
  • Inform the OS of the newly queued value by setting *(HwQueueProgressFenceLastQueuedValueCPUVirtualAddress) equal to N+1.
  • Make the command buffer visible to the GPU by adding it to the ring buffer.
  • Ring the doorbell.

Normal and abnormal process termination

The following sequence of events takes place during normal process termination.

For each HWQueue of the device/context:

  1. Dxgkrnl calls DxgkDdiDisconnectDoorbell to disconnect the doorbell.
  2. Dxgkrnl waits for the last queued HwQueueProgressFenceLastQueuedValueCPUVirtualAddress to be completed on the GPU. Ring Buffer/Ring Buffer Control allocations remain resident.
  3. Dxgkrnl’s wait is satisfied, and it can now destroy the Ring Buffer/Ring Buffer Control allocations, and doorbell and HWQueue objects.

The following sequence of events takes place during abnormal process termination.

  1. Dxgkrnl marks the device in error.

  2. For each device context, Dxgkrnl calls DxgkddiSuspendContext to suspend the context. The Ring Buffer/Ring Buffer Control allocations are still resident. KMD preempts the context and removes it from its HW run list.

  3. For each HWQueue of context, Dxglrnl:

    a. Calls DxgkDdiDisconnectDoorbell to disconnect the doorbell.

    b. Destroys the Ring Buffer/Ring Buffer Control allocations, and the doorbell and HWQueue objects.

Pseudocode examples

Work submission pseudocode in UMD

The following pseudocode is a basic example of the model that UMD should use for creating and submitting work to HWQueues using the doorbell APIs. Consider hHWqueue1 is the handle to a HWQueue created with the UserModeSubmission flag using the existing D3DKMTCreateHwQueue API.

// Create a doorbell for the HWQueue
D3DKMT_CREATE_DOORBELL CreateDoorbell = {};
CreateDoorbell.hHwQueue = hHwQueue1;
CreateDoorbell.hRingBuffer = hRingBufferAlloc;
CreateDoorbell.hRingBufferControl = hRingBufferControlAlloc;
CreateDoorbell.Flags.Value = 0;

NTSTATUS ApiStatus =  D3DKMTCreateDoorbell(&CreateDoorbell);
  goto cleanup;

assert(CreateDoorbell.DoorbellCPUVirtualAddress!=NULL && 

// Get a CPUVA of Ring buffer control alloc to obtain write pointer.
// Assume the write pointer is at offset 0 in this alloc
D3DKMT_LOCK2 Lock = {};
Lock.hAllocation = hRingBufferControlAlloc;
ApiStatus = D3DKMTLock2(&Lock);
  goto cleanup;

UINT64* WritePointerCPUVirtualAddress = (UINT64*)Lock.pData;

// Doorbell created successfully. Submit command to this HWQueue

UINT64 DoorbellStatus = 0;
  // first connect the doorbell and read status
  ApiStatus = D3DKMTConnectDoorbell(hHwQueue1);
  D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS DoorbellStatus = *(UINT64*(CreateDoorbell.DoorbellStatusCPUVirtualAddress));

    // fatal error in connecting doorbell, destroy this HWQueue and re-create using traditional kernel mode submission.
    goto cleanup_fallback;

  // update the last queue progress fence value
  *(CreateDoorbell.HwQueueProgressFenceLastQueuedValueCPUVirtualAddress) = new_command_buffer_progress_fence_value;

  // write command to ring buffer of this HWQueue
  *(WritePointerCPUVirtualAddress) = address_location_of_command_buffer;

  // Ring doorbell by writing the write pointer value into doorbell address. 
  *(CreateDoorbell.DoorbellCPUVirtualAddress) = *WritePointerCPUVirtualAddress;

  // Check if submission succeeded by reading doorbell status
  DoorbellStatus = *(UINT64*(CreateDoorbell.DoorbellStatusCPUVirtualAddress));


Victimizing doorbell pseudocode in KMD

The following example illustrates how KMD might need to "virtualize" and share the available doorbells between the HWQueues on GPUs that use dedicated doorbells.

KMD's VictimizeDoorbell() function's pseudocode:

  • KMD decides that logical doorbell hDoorbell1 connected to PhysicalDoorbell1 needs to be victimized and disconnected.
  • KMD calls Dxgkrnl's DxgkCbDisconnectDoorbellCB(hDoorbell1->hHwQueue).
    • Dxgkrnl rotates the UMD-visible CPUVA of this doorbell to a dummy page and updates the status value to D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_DISCONNECTED_RETRY.
  • KMD gets back control and does the actual victimization/disconnection.
    • KMD victimizes hDoorbell1 and disconnects it from PhysicalDoorbell1.
    • PhysicalDoorbell1 is available for use

Now, consider the following scenario:

  1. There's a single physical doorbell in the PCI BAR with a kernel-mode CPUVA equal to 0xfeedfeee. A doorbell object created for a HWQueue is assigned this physical doorbell value.

    HWQueue KMD Handle: hHwQueue1
    Doorbell KMD Handle: hDoorbell1
    Doorbell CPU Virtual Address: CpuVirtualAddressDoorbell1 =>  0xfeedfeee // hDoorbell1 is mapped to 0xfeedfeee
    Doorbell Status CPU Virtual Address: StatusCpuVirtualAddressDoorbell1 => D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_CONNECTED
  2. The OS calls DxgkDdiCreateDoorbell for a different HWQueue2:

    HWQueue KMD Handle: hHwQueue2
    Doorbell KMD Handle: hDoorbell2
    Doorbell CPU Virtual Address: CpuVirtualAddressDoorbell2 => 0 // this doorbell object isn't yet assigned to a physical doorbell  
    Doorbell Status CPU Virtual Address: StatusCpuVirtualAddressDoorbell2 => D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_DISCONNECTED_RETRY
    // In the create doorbell DDI, KMD doesn't need to assign a physical doorbell yet, 
    // so the 0xfeedfeee doorbell is still connected to hDoorbell1
  3. The OS calls DxgkDdiConnectDoorbell on hDoorbell2:

    // KMD needs to victimize hDoorbell1 and assign 0xfeedfeee to hDoorbell2. 
    // Physical doorbell 0xfeedfeee is now free and can be used vfor hDoorbell2.
    // KMD makes required connections for hDoorbell2 with HW
    ConnectPhysicalDoorbell(hDoorbell2, 0xfeedfeee)
    return 0xfeedfeee
    // On return from this DDI, *Dxgkrnl* maps 0xfeedfeee to process address space CPUVA i.e:
    // CpuVirtualAddressDoorbell2 => 0xfeedfeee
    // *Dxgkrnl* updates hDoorbell2 status to connected i.e:
    // StatusCpuVirtualAddressDoorbell2 => D3DDDI_DOORBELL_STATUS_CONNECTED

This mechanism isn't required if a GPU uses global doorbells. Instead, in this example, both hDoorbell1 and hDoorbell2 would be assigned the same 0xfeedfeee physical doorbell.