[Update: Steam Updated] X-Plane 11.50 Beta - Including Vulkan & Metal - Available Now

April 2, 2020

[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
  • librain
  • Flight Factor A320
  • JAR A320
  • SkyMaxx Pro
  • ToLiss A319 & A321
  • xEnviro
  • xPilot
  • XPRealistic Pro
  • xSquawkBox

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.
  • XPD-10487 OpenGL – Plugin Admin window causes shadow distortion.
  • XPD-10490 Plugin dialog box widgets not rendering in OpenGL.
  • XPD-10492 Hang or crash when resizing window in Vulkan.
  • XPD-10513 Misc Objects list outside of UI in PlaneMaker.

Developer Preview 6

  • Crash fixes.
  • XPD-10489 Fixed plugin VR windows with Vulkan.
  • Additional logging for XPD-1050 Crash with custom scenery OBJ.
  • XPD-10529 Mouse not being found on startup window in Linux.
  • XPD-10533 View is upside down when running Vulkan VR with HDR.
  • XPD-10534 Fixed flight path missing in Vulkan.

Developer Preview 7

  • New paging algorithm.
  • New modern plugin admin with performance profiling tools.
  • XPD-10443 Crash with Vulkan & VR max AA setting.
  • XPD-10447 Cannot drag anti-aliasing slider with VR mouse.
  • XPD-10454 Device Lost While Flying.
  • XPD-10465 VRAM usage is inefficient under heavy pressure.
  • XPD-10461, XPD-10456, XPD-10474 User out of device memory at startup.
  • XPD-10496 Fixed crash loading Orbx NorCal.
  • XPD-10542 Crash when copying bodies in Plane Maker.

Developer Preview 8

  • Yet another new paging algorithm.
  • XPD-10464 Updated UI text when Vulkan/Metal not available, and added messages on Linux.
  • XPD-10466 Fixed Plane Maker and AirfoilMaker gamma in UI.
  • XPD-10475 Metal + NV + AA broken.
  • XPD-10501 Fixed log typo about backend.
  • XPD-10551 Loading screen blip with pop out map.
  • XPD-10553 Crash when minimizing on Windows.
  • XPD-10561 Plugin admin performance profiling doesn’t change name.
  • XPD-10567 Opening Plane Maker causes X-Plane to be unable to load with the Vulkan driver.
  • XPD-10572 Fixed B52 2d panel layout.

Developer Preview 9

  • Took FMOD runtime updates & bug fixes (only version 1.08 still licensed).
  • If multiple localizers on the same frequency, always take the one that can be combined with a glideslope.
  • XPD-9059 Add command to reset to the next runway on the current airport.
  • XPD-10410 G1000 amperage indicator no longer hard coded.
  • XPD-10413 Anti-ice all_engines_inlet_heat_toggle not available.
  • XPD-10431 GPS exception crashes.
  • XPD-10508 G1000 Collapse Airways doesn’t hide everything.
  • XPD-10560, XPD-10592, XPD-10593 Fixes for blurry orthophotos.
  • XPD-10569 Clouds missing from right eye in 4x SSAA + VR.
  • XPD-10580 Fixed OGL depth being reverse-z when doing Vulkan/Metal panel callbacks.
  • XPD-10590 Fixed missing aircraft textures.
  • XPD-10594 Fixed most/all XPCallbacks not restoring the GFX device and then blowing up when they ever need to access it.
  • XPD-10596 Fixed ATC dialogue lines broken.
  • XPD-10598 Fixed textures being low res in VR holodeck.

Developer Preview 10

  • Rewrote shadow & water code.
  • Additional UI alerts for issues initializing Vulkan/Metal.
  • XPD-8162 Ocean tiles loading slowly & appear to be missing entirely in scenery.
  • XPD-8304 Fixed bezier curvature for highest world object settings.
  • XPD-9447 Creepy crawly moving shadows.
  • XPD-10275 Fixed Plane Maker “Special Equipment” window typo.
  • XPD-10284 Art control to force panel to always render for third parties.
  • XPD-10471 Shadows are low res and generally silly.
  • XPD-10599 2D Panel Texture not being mapped to 3D cockpit.
  • XPD-10603 Blurry orthophoto textures after long flight in d9.
  • XPD-10606 Bug with strange large shadow.
  • XPD-10607 Fixed missing pipeline in sky colors.
  • XPD-10610 Low resolution textures on ground trucks close to aircraft.
  • XPD-10611 Low res acf textures for parked airport aircraft.
  • XPD-10614 Shadow on acf when camera is very close.

Developer Preview 11

  • Stutter check is off by default.
  • Fixed text about shader load time.
  • Dataref to tell modern driver.
  • Fixed race conditions.
  • Added link to info on required drivers.
  • XPD-10615 UI says to restart when it shouldn’t.

Beta 1

  • Latest manuals added.
  • Fixed missing VRAM use Text in UI.
  • XPD-10626 Hacked around crash on AMD in Catalina 10.15.4.

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