## How to combine bytearrays fast ?

General discussions and questions abound development of code with MicroPython that is not hardware specific.
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Blechi
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:55 pm

### How to combine bytearrays fast ?

Hi folks,
I'm a little stuck here and maybe someone can help.
There are four bytearrays which have to be combined (for lack of a better word) into a fifth one using the fastest way possible.

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``````a = bytearray(240)
b = bytearray(240)
c = bytearray(240)
d = bytearray(240)
result = bytearray(240)

a = [<arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, 0, ... and so on ..., <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, 0]
b = [0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, ... and so on ..., 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0]
c = [0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, ... and so on ..., 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0]
d = [0, 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, 0, 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>, ... and so on ..., 0, 0, 0, <arbitrary byte>]``````
The result should look like this:

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``result = [<byte 0 from a>, <byte 1 from b>, <byte 2 from c>, <byte 3 from d>, <byte 4 from a>, ... and so on ..., <byte 236 from a>, <byte 237 from b>, <byte 238 from c>, <byte 239 from d>]``
The easiest way would be:

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``````for i in range(0,240):
result[i] = a[i] + b[i] + c[i] + d[i]``````
Unfortunately the operation has to be as fast as possible.
Something like

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``result = a | b | c | d``
would be nice, but of course it doesn't work that way.
Has someone perhaps a clever idea how to do this as fast as possible?

Blechi

jimmo
Posts: 1848
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:57 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

Have you tried experimenting with the @native or @viper decorators?

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``````@micropython.native
def merge(a, b, c, d, result):
for i in range(0,240):
result[i] = a[i] + b[i] + c[i] + d[i]
``````
Or

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``````@micropython.viper
def merge(a : ptr8, b : ptr8, c : ptr8, d : ptr8, result : ptr8):
for i in range(0,240):
result[i] = a[i] + b[i] + c[i] + d[i]
``````
I'd need to test the viper one, some additional annotations might be required, but the native one should just work.

OutoftheBOTS_
Posts: 790
Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:18 am

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

First I would ask how r u going to add 4 bytes together then fit the result within a byte?? Remember a byte can only hold the values between 0 and 255.

Not sure what has been implemented in the uLAB module (uLAB is MP version of NumPy)

jimmo
Posts: 1848
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:57 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

OutoftheBOTS_ wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:59 pm
First I would ask how r u going to add 4 bytes together then fit the result within a byte?? Remember a byte can only hold the values between 0 and 255.
My impression was that the arrays are zeron other than every fourth element. i.e. this code would do the same thing:

Code: Select all

``````def merge(a, b, c, d, result):
i = 0
while i < 240:
result[i] = a[i]
i += 1
result[i] = b[i]
i += 1
result[i] = c[i]
i += 1
result[i] = d[i]
i += 1
``````
(Which may actually be faster than the OPs code, and would also work well with native/viper)

(Speculating wildly, but my guess is it's something like APA102 pixels, and different code generates the R G B and Brightness values??)

OutoftheBOTS_
Posts: 790
Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:18 am

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

jimmo wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:22 pm
OutoftheBOTS_ wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:59 pm
First I would ask how r u going to add 4 bytes together then fit the result within a byte?? Remember a byte can only hold the values between 0 and 255.
My impression was that the arrays are zeron other than every fourth element. i.e. this code would do the same thing:

Code: Select all

``````def merge(a, b, c, d, result):
i = 0
while i < 240:
result[i] = a[i]
i += 1
result[i] = b[i]
i += 1
result[i] = c[i]
i += 1
result[i] = d[i]
i += 1
``````
(Which may actually be faster than the OPs code, and would also work well with native/viper)

(Speculating wildly, but my guess is it's something like APA102 pixels, and different code generates the R G B and Brightness values??)
Ahh ok that makes more sense.

So then this

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``````a = bytearray(240)
b = bytearray(240)
c = bytearray(240)
d = bytearray(240)
result = bytearray(240)``````
really needs to be this

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``````a = bytearray(240)
b = bytearray(240)
c = bytearray(240)
d = bytearray(240)
result = bytearray(240*4)``````
If speed is really a need then I would suggest instead of originally creating 4 separate array then combine them just create the needed array to being with.

somthing like this

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``````a_pos = const(0)
b_pos = const(1)
c_pos = const(2)
d_pos = const(3)

result = bytearray(240*4)

#fill the array with some data\

#change a at postion 187 to 25
result[187*4+a_pos] = 25

#change b at postion 122 to 231
result[122*4+b_pos] = 231

#change c at postion 100 to 29
result[100*4+c_pos] = 231

#change d at postion 132 to 126
result[123*4+d_pos] = 126``````

jimmo
Posts: 1848
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:57 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

OutoftheBOTS_ wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:18 am
really needs to be this
My impression was that a,b,c,d only have values every fourth value, starting at one offset relative to each other.

i.e.
a = r1,0,0,0, r2,0,0,0, r3,0,0,0
b = 0,g1,0,0, 0,g2,0,0, 0,g3,0,0
c = 0,0,b1,0, 0,0,b2...
...
which would combine into
result = r1,g1,b1,x1,r2,g2,b2....

i.e. the + is a convenient way of ignoring the zeros. (Could also be | ).

Blechi
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:55 pm

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

Wow, this is really impressive.
I can't believe that this can be done so fast.
This

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``````@micropython.native
def merge(a, b, c, d, result):
for i in range(0,240):
result[i] = a[i] + b[i] + c[i] + d[i]
return(result)
``````
is about 7 times faster than this

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``````for i in range(0,240):
result[i] = a[i] + b[i] * c[i] + d[i]
``````
But this

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``````@micropython.native
def merge(a, b, c, d, result):
i = 0
while i < 240:
result[i] = a[i]
i += 1
result[i] = b[i]
i += 1
result[i] = c[i]
i += 1
result[i] = d[i]
i += 1
return(result)
``````
is about 15 (fifteen !) times faster than the simple 'for' loop.
The .viper version of the while loop is about as fast as the .native one.
And yes these are RGBW values for SK6812 neopixels which are calculated separately and then combined to shove them into the strip via esp.neopixel_write.
Now i have something to work with.
It's now possible to create something like a nineth bit per color by doubling the framerate.

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``````possible LED brightness values in the  first frame: 0,1, ... ,255,255,255, ... ,255
possible LED brightness values in the second frame: 0,0, ... ,  0,  1,  2, ... ,255``````
What of course doesn't make the LEDs any brighter, but allows for smoother dimming of a lot more LEDs.
Thank you so much for your help.
Thanks again
Blechi

jimmo
Posts: 1848
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:57 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

Yes @native is really great when you need it. Note that the generated native code will be larger than the equivalent bytecode, but for short perf-critical things like this it's very useful. (This is why it's not enabled by default though)

My guess as to why the second version with the while loop is faster is that it does way fewer reads of the buffer. Similar number of total ops though.

Like OutOfTheBots said though, I don't really understand why the input arrays have to be sparse. Why can't you combine four 60-byte arrays into the final 240-byte one?

(Or why can't you just work entirely in the output array).

Blechi
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:55 pm

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

The data for each of the four LED colors is a 240 bytes window of the same bytearray which is quite a bit longer than the 240 bytes.
The four windows slide along this array at different speeds in a way that keeps the 0 bytes at the same position for each basic color array.
This is faster than calculating the content for the four bytearrays separately.
Imagine a clock where the hands all look the same but each one moves by itself.

OutoftheBOTS_
Posts: 790
Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:18 am

### Re: How to combine bytearrays fast ?

Correct if I am wrong but it is the range(240) that takes up all the time because it doesn't create a list that it iterates through but rather is a global function that has to be called each iteration of the for loop. If you create a local list then it should run faster but use more memory.

Code: Select all

``````@micropython.native
def merge(a, b, c, d, result):
iteration_list = range(0,240)
for i in iteration_list:
result[i] = a[i] + b[i] + c[i] + d[i]
return(result)  ``````
I would still assume the while loop will be faster though but would be interesting to see
Last edited by OutoftheBOTS_ on Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:54 am, edited 1 time in total.