AMD shader program memory leak

I’m more or less certain I’ve found a driver bug concerning the deletion of shader programs.

It seems that a deleted shader program will not properly release its memory when the following criteria are met:

  • The program has or had a fragment shader attached to it.
  • The attached fragment shader makes use of a ‘uniform sampler2D’ variable.
  • The program was successfully linked and bound.
  • While the program was bound, a rendering operation took place.

This example code reproduces the leak, given that the fragment shader uses a sampler2D:

GLint p = glCreateProgram();
glAttachShader(p, fragmentShader);

glVertex3f(0, 0, 0);


Note that the leak still occurs if I replace the immediate-mode rendering with rendering from a VBO, and if I manually detach the shaders from the program before deleting it. I’ve also tried doing just about everything else before deleting it, as well as calling glFinish / glFlush afterwards.

This behavior occurs on my desktop’s Radeon 6850 with the 5/9/2011 drivers, as well as on my laptop’s Radeon Mobility HD 3200 with the 5/9/2011 drivers. I gave a test program to my friend, and it didn’t cause a leak on her non-AMD card.

I hope I’ve given enough information here. I can upload the test application if anyone wants me to.

Thanks for reading.

How do you know that a leak occurred? How are you testing your memory usage? Are you sure it’s a leak and not just the driver holding on to some memory in case it might need it again?

I’m observing my program’s memory usage through Windows’ task manager. I’m aware that this doesn’t report the exact amount of memory actually used by the program, but my test application started with 20 MB allocated at initialization and rose to 700 MB over time with no signs of stopping - and this was basically just running the few lines posted above. If I change the program so that any criterion I mentioned is not met, memory usage stabilizes very quickly.

I considered the possibility that the driver is just holding on to memory, but I don’t see why it would. The only time such memory would be useful is if I recreate the exact same shader program, but that’s exactly what I’m doing and the driver clearly isn’t taking advantage.

If you have some more enlightening tests I could do, I’m willing to try them.

Are you trying to link the program (glLinkProgram) always? The correct way is to link the program once and use the program anywhere. Another point is that some memory is released when the context is destroyed.

I do link each program when it is first created, but no program gets linked more than once.

I just tested to see if deleting the context frees the memory, but it doesn’t seem like even that helps; the memory usage pattern is the same.

It seems your sample code is simple and I think it’s not easy to reproduce the problem by it. Could you please send a small project to me by Thanks.

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