Vulkan and Metal Update for X-Plane 11

Laminar Research confirmed that Vulkan/Metal would be making its way to X-Plane 11 many years ago. The new 3D graphics and computing API promises to bring a wealth of visual improvements and quality to X-Plane…

Posted: 27-Apr-2019 @ 16:46z
Updated: 04-Apr-2023 @ 14:16z
Vulkan and Metal Update for X-Plane 11

Laminar Research confirmed that Vulkan/Metal would be making its way to X-Plane 11 many years ago. The new 3D graphics and computing API promises to bring a wealth of visual improvements and quality to X-Plane 11. Of course, moving a robust simulator from one graphical engine to another is no small feat. Back during their Live Q&A, it was said that progress on Vulkan / Metal had been made and that soon development on bringing it into the simulator was well underway. Laminar Research has now shared that they now have Vulkan running in the simulator and can fly in the cockpit – although with a few random things turned off, which will, of course, be fixed.

In the post on the X-Plane blog, software engineer Ben Supnik confirmed that the following is now working:

  • Using regular and HDR rendering, and SSAO on metal.
  • Flying with Vulkan on AMD, NVidia, and Intel drivers.
  • Hardware stereo rendering on OS X
  • MSAA on Metal – you’ll be able to change MSAA settings without restarting. This may work on Vulkan.

With everything that does currently work, there are some aspects which do not work. As of right now, plugins are being bypassed to ensure that the core experience can run. They have not yet written the plugin-OpenGL-interlop layer. VR is still using the older driver software, but they are going to work on ensuring it is frame rate friendly. Finally, screenshots/movie capture are still work in progress.

To celebrate, and also to share some of the antics the team have had to deal with, Ben shared a few images of some of the funnier elements of bringing the new graphics engine to the simulator. The screenshots come from hundreds of test shots so that the test system can compare them to 11.30 to catch any bugs introduced in the new Vulkan and Metal back-ends.

One of the more amusing bugs (which has been mostly fixed) is the the ‘upside-down’ bug.

GIF Vulkan and Metal Update for X-Plane 11

Finally, ben confirmed that they are hoping to have some solid performance numbers next week. Once they are live, we will let you know.

You can read the full blog on the X-Plane 11 blog page.

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Calum Martin
Calum has been an avid fan of Flight Sim since the release of FS2000 and has developed his love for aviation ever since.
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