WPF render performance with BitmapSource


I've created a WPF control (inheriting from FrameworkElement) that displays a tiled graphic that can be panned. Each tile is 256×256 pixels at 24bpp. I've overridden OnRender. There, I load any new tiles (as BitmapFrame), then draw all visible tiles using drawingContext.DrawImage.

Now, whenever there are more than a handful new tiles per render cycle, the framerate drops from 60fps to zero for about a second. This is not caused by loading the images (which takes in the order of milliseconds), nor by DrawImage (which takes no time at all, as it merely fills some intermediate render data structure).

My guess is that the render thread itself chokes whenever it gets a large number (~20) of new BitmapSource instances (that is, ones it had not already cached). Either it spends a lot of time converting them to some internal DirectX-compatible format or it might be a caching issue. It cannot be running out of video RAM; Perforator shows peaks at below 60MB, I have 256MB. Also, Perforator says all render targets are hardware-accelerated, so that can't be it, either.

Any insights would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance


BitmapScalingMode.LowQuality reduced the problem a little, but did not get rid of it. I am already loading tiles at the intended resolution. And it can't be the graphics driver, which is up-to-date (Nvidia).
I'm a little surprised to learn that scaling takes that much time. The way I understood it, a bitmap (regardless of its size) is just loaded as a Direct3D texture and then hardware-scaled. As a matter of fact, once the bitmap has been rendered for the first time, I can change its rotation and scale without any further freezes.

Best Solution

It's not just with a large number of images. Just one large image is enough to hold up rendering until it has been loaded in, and that can be quite noticable when your image dimensions start getting up in the thousands.

I do agree with you that it's probably the render thread: I did a test and the UI thread was still happily dispatching messages while this render delay was taking place from trying to display a fully pre-cached BitmapImage.

It must be doing some sort of conversion or preparation on the image, like you were speculating. I've tried to mitigate this in my app by "rendering" but hiding the image, then revealing it when I need to show it. However this is less than ideal because the rendering freezes happen anyway.


Some followup: After a discussion on the MS WPF alias I found what was causing the delays. On my Server 2008 machine it was a combination of old video drivers that don't support the new WDDM driver model and a delay for resizing the image.

If the source image size is different from the display size, that will delay the render thread before the image shows up. By default an image is set to the highest quality, but you can change the scaling options for rendering by calling RenderOptions.SetBitmapScalingMode(uiImage, BitmapScalingMode.LowQuality); . Once I did that, the mysterious freeze before displaying an image went away. An alternative, if you don't like the quality drop in scaling, is to load the BitmapImage with DecodePixelWidth/Height equal to the size it will be displayed at. Then if you load the BitmapImage on a background thread, you should have no delay in displaying it.