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X-Plane 11, the detailed flight simulator is finally closing in on an update that will bring in Vulkan support as detailed in a new developer blog post.

Firstly though, the upcoming X-Plane 11.40 update is going to be focusing on the physics. They've spent a good six months going over their physics system as part of an upgraded and currently experimental flight model. The new system will not be the default in the 11.40 update but it will eventually replace the current flight model. If you're interested in learning more about that side of it, see the video included below (Vulkan info below the vid):

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The more exciting part for Linux fans of this sim is likely the Vulkan API addition coming with X-Plane 11.50. This is going to be a huge change, making it more modern and prepares X-Plane 11 for future enhancements as the foundation of what comes next.

It won't be done quickly though, as they said they expect the beta period for Vulkan to "be a relatively long one" but they want to get it out the door and started this year. Sounds like their team are quite excited about using Vulkan (and Metal for macOS) as they say a lot more of what happens compared to OpenGL will be directly inside their own code. They claim what happens inside the drivers are "more predictable, bounded, and can be viewed via modern profiling tools". They think it "should be straightforward to get the information we need to really make the Vulkan renderer scream".

For those of you interested, I've started following their developer blog posts to keep an eye on it for more information on when X-Plane 11.40 and X-Plane 11.50 will actually release in full.

You can pick up X-Plane 11 on Steam and the official site.

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37 comments
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SuperTux 18 October 2019 at 2:40 am UTC
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peta77That's some really exciting news as I was actually a little bit disappointed about the performance it has shown so far on an RTX2080ti @ 4K. It has used (according to nvidia-smi) less than 50% of my GPU and about two third of my CPU cores were just bored while having just 25fps! I hope with update 11.50 X-Plane will finally be able to fully (or at least a lot more) exploit my resources so the experience will be a lot smoother.

Honestly you're OK with 25FPS in X-Plane, when it dips and stays below 20FPS your flights take twice as long, so a flight that would normally take 20 minutes will now take 40 lol.

Unfortunately I would not expect a huge jump asyou're hoping for as I have been told that the X-Plane isn't multi-threaded...
iiari 18 October 2019 at 3:32 am UTC
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peta77That's some really exciting news as I was actually a little bit disappointed about the performance it has shown so far on an RTX2080ti @ 4K. It has used (according to nvidia-smi) less than 50% of my GPU and about two third of my CPU cores were just bored while having just 25fps! I hope with update 11.50 X-Plane will finally be able to fully (or at least a lot more) exploit my resources so the experience will be a lot smoother.
I would temper those expectations. They've already said people shouldn't expect an FPS boost with Vulkan. This is being done solely I think because of expiring OpenGL code and Mac requirements to use Metal. And your experience is totally typical, BTW. XP11 will bring even the tippist toppiest systems to their knees. It's because of all of this legacy code that pushes almost the entire sim through one core of the CPU, and the GPU doesn't matter all that much. So, again, sadly, your experience is typical.

One theory as to why MS 2020 will look and perform so much better is that it's a new, ground-up creation with contemporary code built around contemporary hardware and networking. I mean, all of our current sims are built around code that is 10-15 years old, or older. I wonder if, for a theoretical XP 12, they'll elect to start all over. I would imagine (maybe?) that the MS2020 announcement would have blown up any XP development roadmap, but maybe not...


Last edited by iiari on 18 October 2019 at 3:36 am UTC
peta77 18 October 2019 at 6:37 pm UTC
iiari
peta77That's some really exciting news as I was actually a little bit disappointed about the performance it has shown so far on an RTX2080ti @ 4K. It has used (according to nvidia-smi) less than 50% of my GPU and about two third of my CPU cores were just bored while having just 25fps! I hope with update 11.50 X-Plane will finally be able to fully (or at least a lot more) exploit my resources so the experience will be a lot smoother.
I would temper those expectations. They've already said people shouldn't expect an FPS boost with Vulkan. This is being done solely I think because of expiring OpenGL code and Mac requirements to use Metal. And your experience is totally typical, BTW. XP11 will bring even the tippist toppiest systems to their knees. It's because of all of this legacy code that pushes almost the entire sim through one core of the CPU, and the GPU doesn't matter all that much. So, again, sadly, your experience is typical.

One theory as to why MS 2020 will look and perform so much better is that it's a new, ground-up creation with contemporary code built around contemporary hardware and networking. I mean, all of our current sims are built around code that is 10-15 years old, or older. I wonder if, for a theoretical XP 12, they'll elect to start all over. I would imagine (maybe?) that the MS2020 announcement would have blown up any XP development roadmap, but maybe not...

Thanks for this miserable outlook.. That makes for a wonderful start for this weekend...

But the thing is, as vulkan provides more control to application developers, I was hoping they'll be able to decouple some processes, which could improve overall performance, as my system - GPU and CPU - is barely used at its full potential at the moment. But that of course depends on where the bottlenecks are...
Typically the physics stuff (CFD and FEA) - which is running on the CPU - has lots of potential for parallel processing, but
SuperTux...
Unfortunately I would not expect a huge jump asyou're hoping for as I have been told that the X-Plane isn't multi-threaded...
makes me worry as, looking at CPU usage during runtime, this seems to be way too true. The only situation where there seems to be good multithreading, is when loading new terrain tiles....
But redesigning the kernel for that kind of stuff surely will take a while, so let's hope the best for future updates (like an amazing XP12 )...
The upcoming MSFS might be a motivation for Laminar Research, but companies always promise a lot to get supporters / pre-orders; let's see how much they actually release... Their alpha-version videos actually don't look much better than XP11's; but they still have almost exclusive support of hardware manufacturers for special flight-sim stuff, so that will surely put some pressure on X-Plane


Last edited by peta77 on 18 October 2019 at 6:38 pm UTC
peta77 18 October 2019 at 7:20 pm UTC
Mountain Man
ArdjeThe bigger question for the flight sim world is when does MS 2020 come out, which is the only title that will bring me back to Windows for gaming if it does not run on Wine/Proton and which looks bonkers amazing and which could make XP 11 somewhat irrelevant...
If all you care about is eye-candy then X-Plane might become "irrelevant", but X-Plane has always been the king of physics and flight dynamics.

But before you declare MS Flight Simulator 2020 the king of graphics, the trick is actually very simple: orthophotos, a trick that has been around for years, and you can add for free to X-Plane 11, assuming you have the time to generate them from publicly available satellite imagery resources, and the several terabytes of hard drive space to store them. My hunch is that MSFS 2020 will not store the considerable amounts of data on user's hard drives but will be an online-only title that will pull down the data only as needed.

And while orthophotos generally look good, they come with certain problems, such as textures sometimes being oddly stretched over surface geometry, "baked in" shadows that don't match the in-game lighting, dynamic roads not lining up with the photos so that you end up with oddities like cars driving through buildings, generated 3D structures that don't line up with the photos leading to flattened buildings, visible seams between photo textures where they don't perfectly line up, and so on. And, yes, every single one of these problems is visible in the MSFS 2020 trailer, but the deliberately fast-paced editing makes them hard to spot.

What I got from previews is that they are doing some autogen-stuff from open-street-maps like X-Plane is doing it.. And that can be good-looking in some areas (if you fine-tune it), but it won't all over the globe (OSM data is not perfect, I do recall a couple of places where i.e. an automatically generated bridge would suddenly have a 20m step in the middle to match adjoining terrain heights). When looking at X-Plane's "home" terrain it also looks absolutely amazing, but that's not representative for the whole globe. So, as MSFS development doesn't have thousands of terrain "designers" I'd expect huge differences in quality between popular and other areas.
iiari 19 October 2019 at 4:07 am UTC
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peta77What I got from previews is that they are doing some autogen-stuff from open-street-maps like X-Plane is doing it.. ...but it won't all over the globe
As I replied to someone earlier, they've released all the details on it. It will not be autogen based on open maps, but will be faithful representations based on streamed Bing Maps, 2 pedabytes of data worth, with algorithms deciding on 3D building representations based on Bing Maps appearance. And it WILL BE THE ENTIRE WORLD. Anything Bing Maps has done will be in the game. More populous areas will have higher detail maps and they'll do more customized maps of high use areas (Paris, NYC, etc). Want to know how good your favorite areas will be in MS2020? Check out how detailed the Bing Map is now.

Alpha hands on previews by journalists, who could on their own select anywhere in the world to fly (their hometown, where they work, where they went to college, landmarks, etc) were stunned at the level of 3D detail far in excess of anything in existence right now. They said it allows for true VFR flying now... And this is just the alpha. Looking forward to it!
peta77 19 October 2019 at 5:10 pm UTC
iiari
peta77What I got from previews is that they are doing some autogen-stuff from open-street-maps like X-Plane is doing it.. ...but it won't all over the globe
As I replied to someone earlier, they've released all the details on it. It will not be autogen based on open maps, but will be faithful representations based on streamed Bing Maps, 2 pedabytes of data worth, with algorithms deciding on 3D building representations based on Bing Maps appearance. And it WILL BE THE ENTIRE WORLD. Anything Bing Maps has done will be in the game. More populous areas will have higher detail maps and they'll do more customized maps of high use areas (Paris, NYC, etc). Want to know how good your favorite areas will be in MS2020? Check out how detailed the Bing Map is now.

Alpha hands on previews by journalists, who could on their own select anywhere in the world to fly (their hometown, where they work, where they went to college, landmarks, etc) were stunned at the level of 3D detail far in excess of anything in existence right now. They said it allows for true VFR flying now... And this is just the alpha. Looking forward to it!

So next MSFS sounds like an impressive flight sim. But having the map data source online definitely can be a problem, depending on your internet connection. So the should be having a good caching strategy or a prefetch functionality for it to be still usable even if you live in a region with bad internet. That's why I really like it that X-Plane is still available as a DVD box. Downloading the (U)HD meshes just has always been a big thing where my internet connection was "unavailable" for a couple of days. And even that still isn't enough to do real VFR in X-Plane. So it will be really interesting how good their strategy will perform. But, whatever the results will be, it surely will have an effect on the development road-map of X-Plane. I really hope they are able to keep up with the competition and can provide similar quality with the next big release as I definitely prefer to be using my Linux-PC.
iiari 20 October 2019 at 5:19 am UTC
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peta77So next MSFS sounds like an impressive flight sim. But having the map data source online definitely can be a problem, depending on your internet connection. So the should be having a good caching strategy or a prefetch functionality for it to be still usable even if you live in a region with bad internet.
Yes, your connection quality will matter quite a bit. My best bet is it'll be like Stadia, where you'll need 35-50 Mbps for best performance and about 10 Mbps to participate at all. Or maybe not that much, given that ortho scenery works quite well with older drives, not requiring SSD's.

Regarding other options, they're way ahead of you . You'll be able to fly completely offline (which reviewers said even that version was better quality than our existing options) and you'll be able to pre-cache your frequently flown areas for use without streaming as well, limited only by your storage space.

Unless this is going to run on Steam like FSX, I really doubt we'll see it work on Linux, even on Wine. If it's the genre redefining title it seems like it's shaping up to be, I'm fully prepared to buy a totally extra Windows PC just to run it (and, of course, run everything else on my Linux rig ).


Last edited by iiari on 20 October 2019 at 5:21 am UTC
Cyba.Cowboy 20 October 2019 at 10:03 pm UTC
iiari
Ardje
SkipperroMan... I'm collecting everything with Vulkan support and I have X-Plane on my wishlist for a long time, but I'm not as big of the simulator fan to pay freaking 65$ for it. I would rather save it for Kerbal Space Program 2.
I have X-Plane also on my wishlist. I did have some fun with Euro Truck Simulator, but I guess X-Plane is more realistic. And I actually don't want that.
EhvisCompletely different beasts. ETS2 is still a game. It's open ended, but the simulation level and mechanics are still geared to have fun even without skill. X-Plane is not a game, it is just a simulator. I think most flight simulator enthusiasts will tell you that flight simulation is a hobby. With matching time consumption and expenses. I have many hours in various X-Plane version, but haven't done too much of it lately and I'm getting rusty to a degree where I couldn't even get my B727 started any more.
Yeah, absolutely what @Ehvis said above. X-Plane is a hard core sim to the level that flight schools actually use dedicated commercial versions of it to train future pilots. There really is no "game" here unless you buy mission or sim-economy mods, which people say are a lot of fun but I just don't have the time for...

Call it "geeky", but this post just sold me on X-Plane, 100%... Knowing that this Linux supported flight simulator is so in-depth and complete makes me want to rush out and buy it now - except that right now, I only own a laptop with above-average gaming capabilities - so it will sit on my "wish" list for the time being.

Does X-Plane support all those fancy flight simulator input / output devices (such as all the stuff Logitech sells)? What about virtual reality headsets - are they supported under Linux-based operating systems?

If those things are supported, I could build a pretty slick - Linux powered - flight simulator in my garage... ;-)
Ehvis 20 October 2019 at 10:35 pm UTC
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Cyba.CowboyDoes X-Plane support all those fancy flight simulator input / output devices (such as all the stuff Logitech sells)? What about virtual reality headsets - are they supported under Linux-based operating systems?

I think most things are supported. Couldn't name one that isn't. And with a bit of work, you can add devices with images and definitions yourself since it is all config files. Although Logitech does not represent what is fancy. You could spend thousands on high grade yokes and throttle quadrants. Not sure about the cockpit stuff though since a lot of it is driven by plugins.

VR headsets are supported on Linux via SteamVR. Although getting the Index to work is a bit fiddly at the moment is it won't actually map its primary trigger. Which you need to actually map something.
Cyba.Cowboy 20 October 2019 at 10:42 pm UTC
Mountain ManI agree that competition is a good thing.

Gonna be picky here, but Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is not expected to support Linux-based operating systems though, so technically, X-Plane has no real competition...
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