A hard crash in X-Plane 10 is most likely caused by the system running out of usable system memory (RAM). Symptoms of this include (1) segmentation faults, which occur when a request for memory failed and wasn’t properly detected, and (2) X-Plane’s “uncaught exception: std:: bad_alloc” error.

This may occur (rarely) when your computer is has truly used up all available RAM. More commonly, however, it occurs when X-Plane runs out of virtual address space. Because X-Plane is a 32-bit application, it can only access 2-4 GB of virtual memory (address space) at a time, regardless of how much RAM is installed in your computer. The specific limits are as follows:

  • In 32-bit Windows (including Windows XP and some installations of Windows Vista and Windows 7): 2 or 3 GB, depending on the operating system’s settings
  • In 64-bit Windows (including most installations of Windows Vista and Windows 7): 4 GB
  • In Mac OS X: 3.5 GB
  • In Linux: 3 GB or so

When X-Plane reaches the address space limit of your system (listed above), it will crash. You can confirm that this is occurring by using your system’s memory monitor and watching the memory use of the X-Plane process.

Checking memory usage (Confirming this is the problem)

To check memory usage on a Mac, do the following:

  1. Click on the Applications folder in the task bar. In the menu that opens, click Utilities, then click Activity Monitor.
  2. Launch X-Plane as normal.
  3. In the Process Name column of Activity Monitor, look for the X-Plane process.
  4. Look at the Real Mem column corresponding to the X-Plane process. It should have a value like 950 MB or 1.5 GB listed. If this value is beyond 3.5 GB, X-Plane is liable to crash.

To check memory usage in Windows, do the following:

  1. Right-click on an empty area of the task bar and click Start Task Manager. In the window that opens, click on the Processes tab.
  2. Launch X-Plane as normal.
  3. In the Image Name column of the Task Manager, look for the X-Plane process.
  4. Look at the Memory column corresponding to the X-Plane process. It should have a value like 950,000 K listed. If this value is beyond your operating system’s address limits (listed above), X-Plane is liable to crash. Note that there are 1,024 x 1,024 = 1,048,576 kilobytes in 1 gigabyte, so the 2 GB memory limit in Windows XP would be represented as 2,097,152 K.

Correcting the problem

If this is indeed your problem, you can correct it by doing the following:

  • Turn down rendering settings. The major ones are: airport detail (set to default), forests (set to something moderate if you are using autogen too), and texture res (first run with compressed textures). Don’t
  • If you are on 32-bit Windows, consider moving to 64-bit Windows, at least in the long term.
  • If you are on 32-bit Windows with 2 GB per process, increase that limit to 3 GB as described in the Knowledge Base article Increasing Virtual Memory on Windows.

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