Sort based draw call bucketing

bgfx is using sort-based draw call bucketing. This means that submission order doesn’t necessarily match the rendering order, but on the low-level they will be sorted and ordered correctly. On the high level bgfx uses declarative API and internal sorting allows more optimal way of submitting draw calls for all passes at one place, and on the low-level this allows better optimization of rendering order. This sometimes creates undesired results usually for GUI rendering, where draw order should usually match submit order. bgfx provides way to enable sequential rendering for these cases (see bgfx::setViewMode).

API and render thread

API thread is thread from which bgfx::init is called. Once bgfx::init is called on thread, internally bgfx assumes that all API calls will be called from the same thread with exception of Resource, View, and Encoder API.

Render thread from where internal rendering bgfx::renderFrame is called. On most of OS’ it’s required that this call be called on thread that OS created when executing process (some refer to this thread as “main” thread, or thread where main function is called).

When bgfx is compiled with option BGFX_CONFIG_MULTITHREADED=1 (default is on) bgfx::renderFrame can be called by user. It’s required to be called before bgfx::init from thread that will be used as render thread. If both bgfx::renderFrame and bgfx::init are called from the same thread, bgfx will switch to execute in single threaded mode, and calling bgfx::renderFrame is not required, since it will be called automatically during bgfx::frame call.

Resource API

Any API call starting with bgfx::create*, bgfx::destroy*, bgfx::update*, bgfx::alloc* is considered part of resource API. Internally resource API calls are guarded by mutex. There is no limit of number of threads that can call resource API simultaneously. Calling any resource API is infrequent, and functions are cheap since most of work with resource is done at later point on render thread.

View API

Any API call starting with bgfx::setView* is considered part of view API. View API is not designed to be thread safe at all since all views are independentent from each other. Calling any view API for different views from different threads is safe. What’s not safe is to update the same view from multiple threads. This will lead to undefined behavior. Only view API that has to be set before any draw calls are issued is view mode bgfx::setViewMode. Internal encoder requires view mode to select sort key encoding and if user changes view mode after submit it will cause incorrect sort behavior within the view.

Encoder API

Encoder API can be obtained by calling bgfx::begin. bgfx by default allows 8 simultaneous threads to use encoders. This can be configured by changing Limits.maxEncoders init option of bgfx::Init structure.


By default each platform has sane default values. For example on Windows default renderer is DirectX, on Linux it is OpenGL, and on macOS it’s Metal. On Windows platform almost all rendering backends are available. For OpenGL ES on desktop you can find more information at:- OpenGL ES 2.0 and EGL on desktop

If you’re targeting specific mobile hardware, you can find GLES support in their official SDKs: Adreno SDK, Mali SDK, PowerVR SDK.

All configuration settings are located inside src/config.h.

Every BGFX_CONFIG_* setting can be changed by passing defines thru compiler switches. For example setting preprocessor define BGFX_CONFIG_RENDERER_OPENGL=1 will change backend renderer to OpenGL 2.1. on Windows. Since rendering APIs are platform specific, this obviously won’t work nor make sense in all cases.


BGFX_CONFIG_MULTITHREADED is used to enable/disable threading support inside bgfx. By default set to 1 on all platforms that support threading.