Ultra-Realistic Flight Simulation

X-Plane 64-Bit FAQ

This FAQ answers some basic questions about the upcoming 64-bit version of X-Plane.

What is a 64-bit application?

For any given operating system, applications come in two flavors: 32-bit applications and 64-bit applications.  The difference between these flavors is that 64-bit applications can take advantage of more memory than 32-bit applications.  32-bit applications are typically restricted to 2-4 GB per application.  A 64-bit application may be able to use tens or hundreds of GB of memory.

Most applications are 32-bit applications (including X-Plane 9, X-Plane 10.10 and all versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator) and are thus limited to 2-4 GB of memory.

Why is a 64-bit version of X-Plane important?

As computers have become more powerful, all aspects of hardware have grown: CPU speed, number of cores, GPU power, and memory.  However, while X-Plane can take advantage of many cores, fast CPUs, and high power GPUs, as a 32-bit application it can only use 2-4 GB of RAM, even if your computer has 8 or 16 GB of RAM.

For this reason, we are developing a 64-bit version of X-Plane.  The 64-bit version will be able to use all of your physical RAM, allowing X-Plane to run at higher settings with more add-ons without running out of memory.

When will the 64-bit version of X-Plane be available?

X-Plane 10.20 is the first 64-bit version of X-Plane.  It is available for beta testing now.  It will most likely be in beta testing for several weeks while we iron out bugs and give add-on developers time to port their plugins.

Do I have to use the 64-bit version of X-Plane?

No.  X-Plane 10.20 comes with both 32 and 64-bit versions of the X-Plane application.  You can run whichever one you choose.  The 32-bit version is called X-Plane-32bit.app, X-Plane-32bit.exe and X-Plane-i386 on Mac, Windows and Linux, respectively.  The 64-bit version is called X-Plane.app, x-Plane.exe and X-Plane-x86_64 on Mac, Windows, and Linux respectively.

Why would I want to run the 64-bit version of X-Plane?

You would pick the 64-bit version of X-Plane to avoid crashes and out of memory errors when running at high rendering settings, especially if you have a powerful computer with lots of RAM.  The 64-bit version will let X-Plane use all of your RAM, rather than running out of memory at an artificial limit.

Why would I want to run the 32-bit version of X-Plane?

You would pick the 32-bit version of X-Plane to run add-ons that use plugins that are not 64-bit compatible.

Will the 64-bit version of X-Plane run faster than the 32-bit version?

No.  64-bit applications can use more memory, but they are often the same speed as 32-bit applications.  X-Plane runs at the same speed in 32-bit or 64-bits.

Will the 64-bit version of X-Plane look better than the 32-bit version of X-Plane?

If you do not change your rendering settings, the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of X-Plane look the same. If you have a powerful computer, you may be able to turn up the rendering settings in the 64-bit version without running out of memory.

What are the minimum system requirements for the 64-bit version of X-Plane?

To run the 64-bit version of X-Plane you need:

  • A CPU that can run athlon-64 or intel-64 instructions.  Almost any computer that can run X-Plane 10 well meets this requirement.
  • A 64-bit operating system.  This includes OS X 10.6 or newer (Mac), Windows Vista 64-bit or 7-64 bit, or a 64-bit Linux distribution.

Do I have to re-install X-Plane to get the 64-bit version?

No.  When you run the updater to get the latest patch (X-Plane 10.20) you will automatically get both the 32 and 64-bit executables.

How do I pick 32-bits or 64-bits in the installer?

You don’t have to pick; the X-Plane installer installs two applications; you run the one you wish to use for any given flight.

How much memory can the 32-bit version of X-Plane use?

This varies by operating system, but approximately: 3-3.5 GB (Mac), 2-3 GB (32-bit Windows), 4 GB (64-bit Windwos), and 3 GB (Linux).

How much memory can the 64-bit version of X-Plane use?

This also varies by operating system, but it’s typically 16 GB or more, often much more.  Full Windows memory limits here.

X-Plane 32 runs out of memory, but I see it using only 3 GB of memory.  Why is it crashing before the limit?

The memory limits on a 32-bit application actually limit the amount of virtual memory provided, and X-Plane sometimes uses more virtual memory than physical memory.  So X-Plane may crash when it runs out of virtual memory, even if less than 3 GB of physical memory is being used.

Why does the Mac run out of memory so much more than Windows?

Mac OpenGL drivers borrow more of X-Plane’s memory than Windows OpenGL drivers do, leaving less memory for X-Plane.

Will existing add-ons work with 64-bit X-Plane?

Add-ons that do not use plugins will “just work” with the 64-bit version of X-Plane.

Plugins that are not 64-bit compatible will not load in the 64-bit version of X-Plane, so some add-ons that do use plugins may not look right in the 64-bit version of X-Plane until they are updated.

What will happen if I run the 64-bit X-Plane with plugins that are not 64-bit compatible?

The plugin will not load.

I ran the 64-bit version of X-Plane and I see no plugins.  Where did they go?

When the 64-bit version of X-Plane loads, it ignores 32-bit-only plugins.  If your plugins are 32-bit only they will not be listed in PluginAdmin.  If you look at Log.txt you will see a number of errors as the plugin failed to load (because it is not 64-bit).

Will the 32-bit version of X-Plane still be available?

Yes.  X-Plane will continue to support 32-bits as well as 64-bits for all future X-Plane version 10 patches.

bsupnik from the X-Plane team wrote this post

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Last updated at 9:25 pm