Double Buffered State
Submitted by Zachary Booth Simpson
on 12/4/2000

2000 - Zachary Booth Simpson. Copied with permission from If you find any of this work useful, please sign Zack's guest book:


Track an old and new state for multi-Model Controllers.


Some Controller systems (for example, collision physics) need to track the state of several objects simultaneously and it must be ensured that they always read the same time step state for each Model instance.

If double buffering is not used, then as the physics system traverses the Models, it will become "confused" when it reads a state which has already been updated, thus using a new state instead of an old state.

This is analogous to a variable swap. int temp = a; a = b; b = temp; Without the temp varaible, a = b; b = a; would cause a==b always.


The necessary state information is typically isolated into a separate structure. For example:
struct PhysicsState {
    Vec3 pos,vel,angles,angVel,forceAccum,torqueAccum

Two instances of this class are combined into either the controller or model, often in a two element array. A global or local variable is used to flip between the two states using an accessor method.

For example:

class Model {
    PhysicsState states[2];
    PhysicsState getOldState() { return state[ globalFrame   &1]; }
    PhysicsState getNewState() { return state[(globalFrame+1)&1]; }


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Issues and Risks

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Related Patterns


Uses and References

Thanks to Chris Hecker.

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Date this article was posted to 6/19/2001
(Note that this date does not necessarily correspond to the date the article was written)

See Also:
Design Patterns

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