X-Plane Now Shipping Zink To Avoid Vendor OpenGL Drivers

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 24 February 2023 at 05:00 PM EST. 49 Comments
As written about last year, the Laminar Research developers responsible for the incredible X-Plane flight simulator software have been working to make use of Mesa's Zink for leveraging OpenGL atop Vulkan to thereby avoid vendor OpenGL drivers that can vary in quality across platforms. With X-Plane 12.04b3, that goal is finally realized.

X-Plane back in 2020 introduced Vulkan support but retained OpenGL support for legacy reasons and maintaining compatibility with plug-ins for the flight simulator relying on OpenGL calls. But due to some OpenGL hardware drivers being buggy or behaving differently and other assorted issues that have cropped up over the years, over the past year they began adapting to instead make use of Mesa's Zink OpenGL-on-Vulkan layer to replace using the hardware OpenGL drivers directly.

Thus now with -Plane 12.04b3 on Windows and Linux, Zink is used for running the OpenGL support atop the native Vulkan hardware drivers that typically is in better shape. The X-Plane developers are also looking at potentially using Zink on macOS in the future too by going the MoltenVK route. If they can succeed in their macOS goal, they would have OpenGL atop Zink running atop MoltenVK that in turn is interacting with the Apple Metal driver.

X-Plane 12

This Zink route reduces the OpenGL implementations/targets they need to care about and in turn should provide more reliable performance.

More details on the Zink'ed X-Plane via the X-Plane developer blog. It will be interesting to see if other cross-platform OpenGL software ends up going this route too.
Related News
About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

Popular News This Week