JamesIceland

The Change to 64 Bit - What Exactly Happens?

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Hi everyone,

I know there is a lot that hints that the next version of P3D (v4) may be 64 bit and may be imminent (imminent being sometime this year...perhaps). Rather than add to the many threads that discuss when/what we will see, I wondered if people could perhaps outline what would actually be required to get things working in a 64bit version of P3D? I'm curious to know in particular how different types of add on may need to be changed/updated or plain totally redone. I've put down a couple of points on my current limited understanding of things but would be great to hear from others about what may need doing.

1) Scenery - As an example Orbx have said that there will be no upgrade fee for the next versions of P3D and that it's already in FTX Central - am I wrong to assume therefore that porting scenery over to a 64 bit sim is going to prove potentially less troublesome? I know they'll need to update their DLL's for ObjectFlow but outside of that. Will this be similar for all scenery developers?

2) Aircraft - I have read that this is where it'll be much harder for developers to transition. Some reports have varied from saying that things would need to be done from scratch, others that code will simply have to be recompiled to 64 bit. What about aircraft like the Majestic Dash 8 which I believe does a lot outside of the sim - would that conceivably be better or in fact worse?

3) Utilities / add ons - I haven't seen anything relating to things like AS2016, AivlaSoft EFB or any of the other add ons that people use outside of scenery and aircraft - would these be affected by the sim being 64 bit or not? I know some run relatively separately and inject via SimConnect. Other examples I guess would be GSX, FSFX or REX products. Some I guess just replace texture/effect files but others maybe don't?

These were just my initial thoughts. If the switch does happen then there is sure to be some time before developers catch up - I'd just be curious to find out what sort of workload there may be and whether the shift to 64 bit could be a relatively smooth one or a lengthy process of updating. I do remember when X Plane became 64 bit but I do not remember whether this caused headaches - albeit it's a totally different platform. I seem to remember the transition being pretty quick though.

Would be great to hear from people who know what it may take to get things working in a 64 bit P3D.

James

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Hi James

Scenery: Yes Orbx will give free upgrades, but this could send other small financially marginalized competitors broke if they tried to do the same. Scenery is probably the easiest thing for companies to port over if they have the resources like Orbx. 

Aircraft: Will be more complex considering that there will be a need to recompile in some cases but also probably do updates to the models themselves if the new sim has a more complex improved flight model. But the big companies would be able to make the transition pretty easily I'll guess especially if they get early access. The problem will be all the small companies that fresh sales to survive and who won't get early access to beta builds. My guess is no company will offer free upgrades to aircraft you will have to pay again and there will be a long wait in some cases for aircraft especially all of the small aircraft developers in the freeware world.

Utilities: It will be a patch work of some utilities being updated, others not taking a lot of time in some cases. The already entrenched companies like HiFi will probably manage the rewrite of their software without dramas but the small players will need a lot of time to recompile and rewrite a lot of their software and will need you to buy their products again for them to survive. The addons are going to be the biggest problem if you need them.

Basically it is only scenery that has a chance of not needing to be re-coded to work in 64 bit. All the rest probably will because of changes to simconnect and new flight models etc as well as needing to recode 32 bit software.

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Probably separating the scenery / weather and core FDM simulation components of the sim and making their processes run in parallel, like when we use P3D for the visuals of another simulator ( ELITE IFR, Aerowinx PSX... ) could be a nice first move.

Only the scenery / weather rendering side of P3D would go 64 bit on a first update, giving time for developers, and the updated SDK for them to start working on their aircraft updates.

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16 minutes ago, glider1 said:

All the rest probably will because of changes to simconnect and new flight models etc as well as needing to recode 32 bit software.

Thanks Glider - assuming that the only changes is the move to 64 bit then will that make a difference? I'm making an assumption (for simplification purposes regarding my question) that the only major change will be from 32-64 bit - there could of course be all sorts of rendering and code changes in addition which means that it's incredibly hard for developers to switch. But if the change is literally "now it's 64 bit" then what?

15 minutes ago, jcomm said:

Probably separating the scenery / weather and core FDM simulation components of the sim and making their processes run in parallel, like when we use P3D for the visuals of another simulator ( ELITE IFR, Aerowinx PSX... ) could be a nice first move.

Only the scenery / weather rendering side of P3D would go 64 bit on a first update, giving time for developers, and the updated SDK for them to start working on their aircraft updates.

That's interesting, I haven't heard that before - would make sense for LM to make the transition as smooth as possible and if what you describe is something that can be done when moving from 32-64 bit it would seem sensible.

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I will be really disapointed if the old data continues to be used for airports etc.With changes in the magnetic field these are now often very inacurate and no longer reflect the real world.  The problem though is that this means much more of the bse P3D program will need to be changed and it will not be just a recompile which is what Dovetail appears to have done when they recompilled FSX for their Flight School product (64 bit).

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16 minutes ago, harrry said:

I will be really disapointed if the old data continues to be used for airports etc.With changes in the magnetic field these are now often very inacurate and no longer reflect the real world.  

Updating the Magdec file is trivial. it's only one file

here you go : https://www.aero.sors.fr/navaids.html

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Updating the magdec is more complex than that... the magdec used in the real world doesn't update universally.  In fact it gets rather complex where they won't update the magdec used for a given navaid (in other words the magdec used to determine course/radial for that navaid is different than the actual magdec of the region).  It can really mess with approach courses and plates and such.

As for what will 64bit mean.. the code size will double.  The code performance will go down (it has no choice it's literally moving twice the size of data).  The addressable memory will go up, dramatically.  People will complain about the performance issues and lack of addons... then at some point someone will experience an OOM on their system and all *bleep* will break loos.

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None of that happened  when XP went from from 32 to 64 bit. 

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Changing the code to 64 bit will not affect any scenery or aircraft if LM keeps all the current formats. Even SimConnect will continue to work with 32 programs if the old libraries remain. It all depends on LM if they keep the old file formats and interfaces. Most likely they will.

Only stuff that is registered in dll.xml (i.e. running in the same process as P3D) like FSUIPC and others have to be recompiled to 64 bit. 

So, yeah. I'd more expect what Jay said about X-Plane. :smile:

Recompiling such an old rusty hack as FSX to 64 bit is ... well I don't envy the P3D developers.

Alex

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One of the biggest changes will be that everyone on Avsim will have to find something else to moan about instead of OOM issues lol

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39 minutes ago, Chock said:

One of the biggest changes will be that everyone on Avsim will have to find something else to moan about instead of OOM issues lol

.....that wooshing sound you will hear is 100,000 people simultaneously moving all sliders to the right.  This will be followed by 2 years of moaning and groaning about low frame rates.

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2 hours ago, Chock said:

One of the biggest changes will be that everyone on Avsim will have to find something else to moan about instead of OOM issues lol

As you've been here quite a while, you know that won't be an issue... ;) 

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It's like everything  on the Internet. The 90% of the people who are neither techevangelists nor someone with a problem don't feel obligated to start a conversation.

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4 hours ago, albar965 said:

Changing the code to 64 bit will not affect any scenery or aircraft if LM keeps all the current formats

Actually that is not necessarily true. One of the techniques which can be used in scenery BGL files is resorting to Assembly Code in order to do rather clever things. I know there are several scenery designers who do this on occasion. Such code will crash in 64-bit mode -- assembly code is very different.

Add-on aircraft which use only XML gauges will probably be easily ported, but the original panel tools provided in the Microsoft SDK actually encouraged the writing of C/C++ gauges -- they are effectively DLLs just like the ones loaded by DLL.XML entries, except loaded by PANEL.CFG declarations.

I don't know much about aircraft MDL files, but I suspect that they, too, may sometimes carry machine level code.

If and when it happens it will be interesting times, that's certain! ;-)

Pete

 

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If LC could just create an interim 64-bit version compatible (as much as possible) with everything there is today, with the clear benefit of the plenty of memory to spare, and then rewrite everything from scratch so that better stuff could be added later on (years and years to come, decades maybe), IMHO that would be the perfect approach. :-)

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