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News! - Released : v11.50b1 Beta - Vulkan/Metal API by Laminar Research

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News! - Released : v11.50b1 Beta - Vulkan/Metal API by Laminar Research

 

Laminar Research has released the long awaited, long in development Vulkan/Metal API update in a beta version v11.50b1. The new Application Programming Interface (API) replaces the decades old OpenGL.

 

The API is is a computing interface to a software component or a system, that defines how other components or systems can use it. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. It can also provide extension mechanisms so that users can extend existing functionality in various ways and to varying degrees. In X-Plane's reference it is for the processing of the very highly processor usage of graphics, or what you see on the screen.

 

In the past under OpenGL most of the graphic processing was done on the Video Graphic cards, so the bigger and more powerful graphic card engine you had, then the more better X-Plane ran. But that aspect is not very efficient to a simulator.

 

Vulkan (Windows) and Metal (AppleOS) changes all that by redefining the way ALL your processors process the data and not just the graphic cards, this will also smooth out the processor calls into the urgent and the not so urgent changes you require. For instance the background in reality of your simulator does not really change much, but the aircraft and instruments do and constantly. So the newer APIs will now not just tunnel everything through the graphic card like OpenGL did, but also allow the use of the main processors to work as well in finding a better balance and of course far more efficiency in running your simulations.

 

Overall the changes with the API will be far better for the Apple aspect (Metal) than for Windows (Vulkan) so don't expect huge changes (i.e in your frameframe) because there isn't any. But where you will see huge differences is in stutters and far a more smoothness coming out of the simulator, I found that the weather is far, far more less intrusive as well. Secondly is that the API is very new (it is a BETA as well), so like with the 64bit changes a few years ago, the main total benefits won't be seen for a while.

 

v11.50b1 Beta

The beta release is activated via your X-Plane Installer, just make sure your "beta" box is ticked. It is very important to use a second copy of X-Plane for the new APIs (Again this can be done from the installer, and note don't load in your Global Scenery in the second copy, but when installed then transfer your current Global Scenery folder to the new installation). This way your current X-Plane v11.40 (OpenGL) will still be available.

 

Important! Update your graphic drivers before installing or running the v11.50b1 Beta. Current Nvidia GeForce version is v445.75, and YES you do need to update to this driver!

 

On startup the v11.50b1 beta will still be in OpenGL mode. you have to tick the "Use Vulkan for faster rendering" tickbox and then do a restart...

 

Beta 11_50_Graphics.jpg

 

... when restarting the new API will then take a fair while to recompile your shaders into a new format, so you have to wait while the system does this, every time you restart the system will do this until it has covered all the shaders, but as it processes each startup the loading times will get significantly shorter, finished loading times are still not faster, in fact they are a little bit longer (shaders are now loaded at startup).

 

On release the current items that will not work with v11.50b1...  Current list is:

 

  • Aircraft using DreamEngine Sound
  • Ground Traffic
  • Flight Factor A320
  • JAR A320
  • librain
  • SkyMaxx Pro
  • ToLiss A319 & A321
  • Traffic Global
  • xEnviro
  • xPilot
  • XPRealistic Pro
  • xSquawkBox

Incompatible with X-Plane 11.50:

  • xVision (I believe that xVision has already done a 11.50 update)

 

Most of the above will update in the next few weeks, as they are all currently working on the changes to the new API.

 

Laminar notes "not all add-ons are compatible with Vulkan and Metal. In particular, when Vulkan and Metal are enabled, 3-d drawing callbacks and map drawing callbacks are not sent to plugins. If an add-on appears to not work correctly, you can disable Vulkan and Metal and restart X-Plane."

 

v11.50 is a BETA, not a release, so expect CTD (Crash to Desktop) and loads of other weird things going wrong, the trick is to keep X-Plane v11.50 version as basic as you can, few plugins, few aircraft, but the custom scenery folder should be fine...  then add as required and as tested. Most weather related Applications will currently not work and neither will the multitude of 3d shader projects.

 

Current known bugs

First load time with Metal and Vulkan will be surprisingly slow. This is lots of shaders/pipelines compiling for the first time; subsequent runs will be faster.

  • XPD-7871 Dark contrails instead of white.
  • XPD-9729 Contrails and wing condensation missing in replay.
  • XPD-10458 Need control of eGPU selection.
  • XPD-10506 First run shader creation is super slow.
  • XPD-10569 VR Right eye not working with AMD + Vulkan.
  • XPD-10607 Null pipeline when opening skycolors.
  • XPD-10616 Water reflection off if wave height is non zero.
  • XPD-10617 CTD when using “regenerate icons for current aircraft (and livery)”.
  • XPD-10619 EGPU massive FPS loss with OpenGL Drawing.
  • XPD-10623 Panel screenshots command not working/crashing.
  • XPD-10629 Black screen on Nvidia.

 

Features and improvements

  • Can toggle between OpenGL and Vulkan/Metal in rendering settings.
  • I will note the water effect has had attention, it is now working very well.

 

Full analysis of the new v11.50 version release will come next week from X-PlaneReviews, and any notable new changes...

 

You can get the full X-Plane 11.50 Release Notes and any new changes here: https://www.x-plane.com/kb/x-plane-11-50-release-notes/

 

Discussion and comment updates on current events is here on the X-Plane.org: XP11.50 beta

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

News by Stephen Dutton

3rd April 2020

Copyright©2020: X-Plane Reviews

 

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)


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