X-Plane 11.50 is a major update that completely rewrites the rendering engine to use modern rendering APIs: Vulkan (on Windows and Linux systems) and Metal (on Mac). It is now out of beta testing and available to all X-Plane users!
This version includes new options in the Graphics Settings screen to enable Vulkan or Metal, which require a restart of the sim to go into effect. Please note that the first load time with Metal and Vulkan will be surprisingly slow. This is lots of shaders/pipelines compiling for the first time; subsequent runs will be faster.
Prior to 11.50, X-Plane used OpenGL exclusively. OpenGL is a standardized way to talk to a computers graphics card and put images on the screen. With version 11.50, X-Plane introduces Vulkan and Metal. These are similar standards but they are more modern and efficient than OpenGL. We chose to undertake this project because we were unsatisfied with the performance of X-Plane running OpenGL. This shortcoming was particularly visible in the form of stuttering, when the sim loses track of time and then jumps ahead.
Vulkan and Metal work in a similar manner to provide images on the screen. Unlike OpenGL though, they were designed with modern hardware in mind. Vulkan and Metal simply reduce the amount of overhead necessary to talk to the graphics card.
See the full release notes here for the list of all updated airports and the full list of changes/bug fixes. You can find instructions on how to update X-Plane here!