[Update: Steam Version] Threshold has confirmed that X-Plane 11.50 is now available for Steam users, in addition to those who bought their copies directly from the developer.
It was first announced at FlightSimCon 2017, and almost three years later, Laminar Research's promise to release the Vulkan/Metal beta to the public has at long last been met.
Bugs, crashes, and incompatible addons are to be expected however, as noted on the release notes page - this is a beta and not a full release after all.
"Modern rendering via Vulkan and Metal are enabled by checking an option in the graphics setting screen and then restarting X-Plane," according to Laminar Research employee Jennifer Roberts. "You can tell if X-Plane is utilizing Vulkan or Metal via the startup screen or by viewing driver information in the beginning of Log.txt.
"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."
Addon developers are typically expected to refrain from updating their addons to Vulkan/Metal compatibility, due to the constantly changing nature of X-Plane betas.
Dellanie Byron of FlyJSim has already noted: "We do not officially support beta runs, and any issues you encounter in 11.50 are likely in need of reporting to Laminar. Luckily, the work we did on SASL 3 should negate most issues and run without problem. Plugins which require 3D drawing will need review... which is limited to features such as librain not working during this run. (We'll wait and see on that)"
This is especially true in what is relatively new territory for X-Plane, although developers should look to test their addons towards the end of the beta, expected in several months.
Known bugs of the beta include:
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.
The following addons need to be updated by the developer before the final release to work with the new APIs:
Aircraft using DreamEngine Sound
Flight Factor A320
ToLiss A319 & A321
xVision is, according to Ms Roberts, incompatible with X-Plane 11.50.
Furthermore, the only feature/improvement of the update as of time of writing is the ability to toggle between OpenGL and Vulkan/Metal.
A checkbox in X-Plane 11's graphics settings needs to be ticked for this to take effect and the sim restarted. Graphics drivers must also be updated.
Laminar Research posted the following video today to guide users in enabling Vulkan/Metal:
Only users who can update using the X-Plane installer can do so at this time - Steam users will need to be patient whilst critical issues are expected to be addressed.
The following is a list of changes made during the eleven developer previews and the first beta of X-Plane 11.50, and continues to the end of this news article.
Developer Preview 1
XPD-10288 FMC typo should be VNAV DESCENT.
XPD-10316 Baron B58 Autopilot oscillation during climb / descent.
XPD-10389 Ability to configure data output visibility in replay/screenshots/videos.
XPD-10401 Fixed crash when plane with bad attr_cockpit is loaded.
XPD-10410 Amperage indicator scale in G1000 page.
XPD-10413 Anti-ice all_engines_inlet_heat_toggle not available.
XPD-10422 Fixed Plane Maker Geometry UI overlap.
XPD-10434 XPLMSetActiveAircraftCount doesn’t affect the map.
XPD-10439 Added support for disabling incoming UDP packets, or disabling networking entirely.
Developer Preview 2
XPD-10445 fixed crash at Nimbus KPHX.
XPD-10457 fixed OpenGL SkyMaxx Compatibility with SSAA.
XPD-10453 crash on startup on Linux.
XPD-10459 fixed DataRefTool crashing.
XPP-10460 fixed missing pipeline crash with popup plugin windows.
XPD-10470 fixed clipping with SSAA, HDR and clouds.
Automatic crash reporting fixed.
Fixed crash on startup with Intel GPU on Mac with Metal driver.
Beta 2 will warn when drivers are too old and need an update.
Fixed missing pipeline crash in HDR when not viewing the aircraft in free view.
Silenced stutter reports when the UI is being twiddled.
VRAM and timing profiler are accessible in the UI for diagnostics.
Developer Preview 3
Fixed auto-crash reporting for real this time.
XPD-10476 fixed red tint at Nimbus KATL v2.
XPD-10478 fixed red objects when texture is missing.
XPD-10472 fixed missing pipeline when JATOs fire with Vulkan.
XPD-10455 fixed backward inverted normal maps on Metal/Vulkan.
Fixed crash when opening an invalid aircraft in Plane-Maker.
Fixed Plane-Maker open dialog box when install location is mounted in multiple locations in the file system.
Developer Preview 4
XPD-10477 Fixed crash when calling XPLMSetGraphState from XPluginStart without VK or Metal enabled.
XPD-10479 Fixed lots of AB412 pipeline problems.
XPD-10480 Plugin windows & clouds flipped vertically.
Stutter fix during Vulkan buffer deletion.
Fixed blit shader.
User submitted joystick profiles added.
Developer Preview 5
Rewrote the OpenGL bridge between X-Plane and plugins to fix a number of design limitations and bugs.
Plugin drawing is now in the correct gamma.
Plugin drawing outside of an XPLM window is no longer clipped.
Plugins can read back the frame buffer from any 2-d drawing callback.
Scissors-related drawing bugs are fixed.
XPD-10232 No more empty space padding dropdowns.
XPD-10481 Alpha blending of DRE is wrong.
XPD-10483 Invalid shader error with x737 freeware.