At this point the only thing holding up a public beta of 10.10 is, well, me.  I am currently working on a set of related aircraft rendering bugs, and as soon as I can get the car off of jacks, we can go beta.

One of my goals or 10.10 is to close out the issues that stop payware authors from releasing final conversions of their aircraft to 10.10.  By final, I mean conversions that won’t need any additional future editing.  Right now X-Plane 10.05r1 has a few bugs that cause v10 to look different from v9, different depending on rendering settings, or just wrong.  I want to fix those problems in a permanent manner so that authors can release aircraft and not worry about having to update.

Here are my goals for 10.10, roughly in priority order:

  1. Rendering should be consistent from X-Plane 10.10 onward through the rest of the v10 version run.
  2. Rendering should be consistent between HDR and non-HDR mode.  Authors should not have to create two versions of textures where the HDR and non-HDRs offer the same capabilities.  (In other words, while you might have to make two textures to bake lights when in non-HDR mode, you shouldn’t have to make two textures to correct for differences in color-correction between the two renderers.)
  3. Where possible, non-HDR mode should match X-Plane 9.

The switch of priority between item 2 and 3 is a fundamental change in priority from what I originally intended for X-Plane 10.

Originally I thought that the best thing to do would be to keep non-HDR rendering as close to v9 as possible, so that at least content would look correct with HDR off.

My new thinking for 10.10 is that we should aim for consistency between HDR and non-HDR modes.  Realistically, an author is going to have to make at least a few adjustments in moving v9 content to v10; better to have the cost of rendering engine changes be borne out in a v9->v10 upgrade than to have every v10 airplane require double authoring to cope with HDR vs. non-HDR differences.  In the long term, it’s best to not have v9 haunt v10 like a ghost years after authors are making exclusive v10 content.

Why is HDR Mode So Weird

This begs the question: why is HDR rendering so weird?  Why does it look different from non-HDR rendering, and why doesn’t it look the same as v9?  What did you guys do?

There are a number of changes to how we render in X-Plane 10, some specific to HDR rendering, and some sim-wide.

  • The entire sim now works with a linear lighting equation.  Basically when the sim performs lighting  calculations on the GPU, it thinks in terms of photons and not colors, which produces more realistic results in most cases.  With lots of light sources, linear lighting is absolutely necessary for combining those lights.
  • The order of rendering operations is very different between HDR and non-HDR mode, and the formats that they render into (24-bit RGB vs. floating point, etc.) are very different.  HDR is fundamentally a two-pass format.

X-Plane maintains two separate rendering paths for HDR vs. non-HDR and they are quite different in both what happens at each stage and when the stages occur.

Fixing some of the authoring bugs has required further changing the HDR pipeline to allow for correct rendering.  The up-side of this change in pipeline is that the new one supports better HDR tone mapping and possibly even better fill rate performance.  The down-side is that it’s a lot of complex code to touch and it may take a few betas to work out the bugs.

About Ben Supnik

Ben is a software engineer who works on X-Plane; he spends most of his days drinking coffee and swearing at the computer -- sometimes at the same time.

43 comments on “Consistency and HDR

  1. obviously the hdr mode is very bugy. i can’t run it on my gtx 570, i2500k and win7 64 without a big loss of framerate (nearly -10 frames) besides i have a lot of rendering errors, like triangles in different colours popping up all over the screen.
    so in my opinion the hdr mode in is actual state is crap. it doesn’t run on a state of the art system and it is full of bugs. so please fix it or put it out, its useless by now.

    1. If you have junk rendering, the framerate is moot — any time there is junk rendering, the artifacts may be “costing” fill rate, so the framerate measurement is invalid. I think these artifacts may be specific to you – we have not received other bug reports from users saying that there were artifacts with HDR on 5xx NV hw.

      Please report bug reports to the bug reporter, NOT to this blog.

  2. HDR is so unusable without X-Plane beeing 64-bit. I can’t understand that development time sinks in stuff like that (+ UI…?!?) instead of building the 64-bit version in order to make this sim stable for users AND third party developers. Planes do work, but for small details. Great and huge scenery e.g. does not, because you’ll xmap out of memory.…

    1. The day we can download the 64bit patch will be like Christmas morning. A gift allowing xplane to flourish and not crash

    2. Did you read the other posts why 64 will NOT be Part of the 10.10 update?
      Don’t blame the developers for the limtations of our hardware, instead read this Blog with interest and let the code-gurus make their work.

    3. Hi Marcus,

      This is your 7th post on 64 bit this year and your second rant on the subject in the last four weeks. Please refrain from beating the 64-bit drum every time a post on _another_ unrelated topic comes up. We are working on a number of features, all of which are important to some users, including 64-bit, and we have already posted quite a bit on our plans. I understand your frustration but please do not repeat yourself in an off-topic manner on this blog.


      1. It is more than frustration, Ben. It is a complete lack of comprehension of the priorities that Laminar sets. Better mesh, better textures, new features like AI – everything eating up more VRAM than version 9 – and you had those hints back then. Nobody chased you to make a non-64-bit XP10. You delayed a year yourselves. Now another 7 months have passed by, you have admitted several times the importance of the issue, hinted yourself to making short flights only and getting much too many user reports of crashing because of it… however, it will be 10.2. … when? Another 6 months with an unusable sim? I’ll be out by then, I’m sorry. And I know I am not the only one thinking like that.

        And yes Marc, I read every single post. Because I want to understand. But I don’t.

        1. Hi Markus,

          We are working on 64-bit as well as other features, as I just posted. If your question is “why didn’t you drop those other features to get 64-bit done faster”, then there are a few possible reasons why we may have prioritized things differently from you:

          1. We have to look at all of the requests and how they affect users. 64-bit does not affect all users equally, and it affects some more than others. Other areas affect everyone.
          2. We have to look at the time it takes to ship a feature and relative development cost.
          3. We have to look at who on the team will actually code the feature and load balance.
          4. We have to look at what features block other features from proceeding and avoid stalls. (In particular, we have to do features for the art team _early_ so they can complete their work.)
          5. The same logic as 4 goes for third parties and community development; the longer we wait to get anything into someone else’s hands, the longer before they can even start their own work.

          We have put considerable effort into 64-bit already; if that is not enough for you, there’s nothing I can do about it other than what we already intend to do.


          1. Thanks. However, there are so much antagonisms. E.g., how does the “new UI” fit in this list of priorities? Also you might review your July 2010 post: You reached the opposite of your goals: Low end system owners can’t run it good because of the sims performance in terms of FPS, and high end system owner can’t run it because of Vram issues. The latter especially on Mac, afaik 50% of your user base.
            This was such a promising sim!

          2. Mac is 33% of users base. Mac users with high end systems (if there is such a thing) will need 64 bit. Users with hw that’s really in a position to rock out with HDR _have_ the OS for HDR: win7/64.

            UI is a priority because (1) it freaks out new users – we hear about it a _lot_ and (2) it’s not on my plate, so it doesn’t fight with ren engine/64 bit. See previous post about load balancing.

          3. If you had real statistics of your users (OS type/version, CPU type, RAM size, VGA cards used and such) as has been discussed before (a separate exe or maybe embedded in the installer, easily pushed to users through an update), you could WAY WAY more easily arrange your priorities. Because if (for example) 85% of your users are in x64 mode and the program is not using those additional resources after half a year of new major release… then I call this bad dev. schedule table. I may be wrong. Unfortunately you cannot prove it until you do take those statistics somehow. 🙂

          4. That’s a major shift and I am glad you name it that clearly: Get a windows machine, this once was a sim developed mainly on Mac and for Mac, but that is no longer the case.

            Makes sense now.

            But on win I don’t need X-Plane anyway. I could choose.

          5. Wich of course was known already exactly (-2 days) two years ago, when you first said 64-bit would be on the radar.

    4. Such results are highly subjective. Since I bought the GTX 680, I’ve been using HDR with 4x SSAA with no problems. In my case, there’s just a small trade-off between HDR and other settings. With that said, 64-bit is no doubt highly anticipated, as we’d all love to turn up the “volume.”

  3. cool sounds good, can’t wait to see the art assets and get some of my bugs fixed. Austin announced it would be just a few days so anticipating this week for sure.

  4. Specifically, what are the major differences that we should look out for between 10.1 and 10.05? For example, will internal lights work in daylight?

    1. We will post complete release notes when the beta ships.

      Internal light brightness behavior will depend on what dataref you use. Some of the datarefs are _designed_ to wash out in full sun because a lot of lights in an airplane are like that. Others are not – obviously you can read your gear lights. Once the beta is out, file a bug with a particular plane in question, preferably with pics of v9 vs. v10.

      The goal in this change was to have planes work “correctly” from v9.

  5. Patience reaps its own rewards – very true!
    I, for one, am enjoying watching XPX gradually evolve.
    I considered my money well spent on the 10.03r1 release alone.
    Now 10.05r1 is much, much better so I’m eagerly awaiting every little nuance of improvement in the future XPX, and ALL for free.
    Most software only improves if you purchase the next version!
    More power to your elbow, Ben

  6. I tried HDR rendering a few times now, but keep disabling it for performance. I find that in order to get a tolerable rendering I need to turn down things to the point where it doesn’t really look that great (non-HDR at that point is superior). Hopefully this next update will make it worth playing with again.

    Cool stuff!

  7. Photons, not colours? If you factor in the Higgs-boson, it’ll make 64 bit redundant ! 🙂

    amazing stuff Ben.

  8. Thanks for all the hard work !

    Do you have any Idias on how to fix the freeways/highways/roads, etc…

    In the Los Angeles basin the freeways are typically 6+ lanes seperated by crash barrier for opposing traffic. In XP10 the freeways look like the Overseas Highway going from Miami to the Key West.

    The city highways/roads in the mountain arias don’t look right either when they bank more then 15 degrees or go up a mountain vertically.


    1. Some of this is fixed in 10.10 by a better engine, but some will require better OSM data and some will require better translation from OSM to DSF.

  9. Slightly off-topic, quick question:

    Will there be further developments of the cloud engine during the V10 run? I’m not referring to the “low-level” cloud rendering, but to the “higher level” generation of cloud shapes, patterns, distribution. The cloud engine is currently not capable of representing vertically developed clouds (towering cumuli, cumulonimbi, etc.).

    If instead the current cloud engine is to be considered definitive for the V10 run, will it be possible to have access/override clouds creation via plug-ins?

    1. I don’t know if it’s final. We are not considering a cloud creation API. We may someday allow custom weather “scripting” via modified METAR files, but there’s a lot of other things that are higher priority.

  10. that’s the point ben,
    i don’t feel that hdr runs on a actual system. maybe with the next generation of graphic cards like gtx 670. but with the 500series i don#t feel it works. i turn hdr on and get less then 20 frames with mid-settings on my actual system. thats a bit disappointing 🙁

  11. Ben, I know you are hard working and I understand this is not a top priority, but just to know, cause I suffer it a lot… I had’nt seen any comments on this, perhaps I missed…. 10.10 will include some performance improvement regarding traffic CPU usage ? (Remember your coment about ‘If x-plane get slow with time , its traffic’ )

  12. Using my screen name now since there appear to be too many posters named “Chris.”

    I’m in the same boat as Robert. I have sheets of notepad paper with tweaking notes as I kept reading these posts, trying updates, adjusting settings… all to try and have an enjoyable sim experience in HDR. From the little I was able to use, I love it and look forward to using it exclusively. Unfortunately, I have to turn everything else down so far that it’s pointless. In fact, I’ve gone back to v9 quite a bit lately.

    Interesting about the texture problem; I assumed it was something with my nVidia drivers.

  13. Excellent news, keep up the good work, better to have an 10.10 fully working than a working beta..

    Furthermore, the only thing my issue with the HDR and in fact the only thing holding me back from using it is the somewhat increased FPS drop, it seems there is no correlation between anti-aliasing with HDR and without. Seems like one gets a bigger puch FPS wise with HDR AA than with no-HDR aa.. Go figure!

    1. The FSAA mechanisms in HDR vs non HDR are totally different and produce different effects with different settings! Tune and experiment to see what your system likes…and don’t turn on the “control panel” FSAA when using HDR with x-plane if you are on windows.

    1. It doesn’t affect X-Plane 64 bit support at all. Basically this limits whether you can upgrade your existing Mac from Lion to Mountain Lion, not whether X-Plane (32 or 64 bit) will run. Mountain Lion will run 32 bit _apps_, even if the Kernel is running in 64 bit.

      As a side note, I hope we all learned our lesson from Lion: let other users try the shiny new OS first and find out if it’s really faster for the programs you care about, and what programs you care about don’t work right. At least, that’s my 0.02…OS releases these days just don’t offer anything that new, awesome and cool in the desktop space…the existing OSes are good enough that there aren’t really compelling features left to be done. So why rush to latest? It’d only take a week’s waiting to find out what you’re in for.

      1. From one of the people usually being at the head of the pack I now languish slowly behind when it comes to new gadgets and software upgrades and in most cases a version behind.
        Apple and software companies today use you as guinea pigs to find their problems and only then do they fix them, In the old days they would never ever put out a product unless it was fully tested and complete – times have changed.
        Funny thing is that X-Plane is the only software and on going updates I download straight out of the box?

Comments are closed.