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.