Laminar Research Shares Quick Update on Current Progress of X-Plane

November 13, 2020

In a post to their development blog, Ben Supnik has shared what the team has been working on and what is to come in the near future.

Laminar Research has been much quieter in 2020 than previous years, with the clear headline being the release of X-Plane 11.50 in September.

Alongside Mr Supnik’s statement came the first beta for X-Plane 11.51, a bug fixing patch that follows on from 11.50.

The fixes cover many areas, from CTDs to broken mouse cursors. Beta 1’s changelog looks like this:

  • Updated translations for most languages.
  • Updated & additional joystick config files.
  • Device loss crashes on Vulkan/Windows should be less frequent.
  • XPD-10617 CTD when using “regenerate icons for current aircraft (and livery).
  • XPD-10836 Device loss crashes on Metal/Mac should be less frequent.
  • XPD-11003 Metal has been disabled for Nvidia-based Macs on 10.15 because it hangs.
  • XPD-11025 Plane Maker 11.50 breaks the .acf file when periods are changed to commas.
  • XPD-11028 Crash in the map.
  • XPD-11030 Switching liveries a couple of times crashes X-Plane.
  • XPD-11036 Fixed broken mouse cursor in 3-d cockpit with LDR and OGL.
  • XPD-11038 Fixed washed out GL movie capture.
  • XPD-11044 Fixed missing runway outlines on map.
  • XPD-11047 Fixed option for edge blending with no warping.
  • XPD-11069 Loading flight plans fails after loading a checklist.
  • XPD-10832 Added camera permission string for third party apps

There are no new Gateway airports in beta 1 but they are planned for the next beta.

It is expected to be a short run as 11.51 is intended as a bug fixing patch.

Moving onto the subject of their roadmap of graphics and performance, Mr Supnik reiterated how they approached the concept of 11.50 and how performance will improve further in the future.

“X-Plane 11.50 represents the first step in our long term performance road map: moving to modern, low overhead, high-performance rendering APIs,” he said. “These APIs are multi-core friendly; for X-Plane 11.50 this results in better overall FPS and smoother performance, but only an incremental increase in multi-core use.

“One stealth performance feature in X-Plane 11.50: plugin object instancing. X-Plane has had an instanced drawing API for several years now, but with 11.50 we saw widespread plugin adoption. This is going to be very important for performance going forward; the instancing APIs are designed for efficiency, particularly in a multicore environment.

“We have now switched gears and we are working on new features in the engine itself, e.g. we are working on what we draw and not so much how we draw it. In other words, we are working on graphic enhancements, new features, etc.

“The new features are, as they are being coded, already taking advantages of new tech made possible by Vulkan and Metal, e.g. GPU compute kernels, GPU-based culling, etc.”

He stated that once the rendering features have been worked on, focus will return to performance and, in particular, multicore performance.

“The next multicore goal is to be able to render multiple views in parallel using multiple cores. Parallel rendering has several benefits:

“An X-Plane frame often has sub-views rendered to form the main view (e.g. shadows, water reflections, cube maps, in-cockpit cameras, etc.). Any concurrency we expose makes the sim faster in these scenarios, and they are common.

“Right now while multi-monitor is possible with X-Plane, it is very expensive performance-wise. Having a frame that can be farmed out to multiple cores would make multi-monitor less of a performance hit.

“Note that multi-core multi-monitor would still be single GPU, and it would be a win because right now CPU time limits multi-monitor setups.

“What about multiple GPUs? That’s something we’ll have to look at after we have multicore on the CPU–without it second GPU support doesn’t help.”

Responding to a user in the comments section, Mr Supnik added he has been working on the lighting in X-Plane 11 “for a while”, though refused to offer further details.

On the topic of Apple’s latest OS release, Big Sur, he wrote that they have not had a chance to test it and that it is advised to wait for the team to look into it.

Aside from today’s post, Laminar Research launched a new feature requests and suggestions system in September and has hinted at a next-gen weather system for the flight simulator.

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