Announced on March 4th by Laminar Research (the developers of X-Plane), version 10.20 is released with immediate effect. Existing users of X-Plane can easily update to the latest version using the automatic updated program that comes bundled with the software - it should notify you on the next launch of the software.
This new version enables 64-bit on the software, making full use of modern computer systems that support this mode. The main benefit of utilizing the 64-bit system is that X-Plane has access to more memory (RAM) and can store cached files/data there more readily. Most computer systems come with greater than 4GB of RAM and this upgrade breaks the limit of 4GB for systems not using PAE. This update will only allow you to run 64-bit mode if you are already running a 64-bit operating system as the base; i.e. if you are running Windows in 32-bit mode, this upgrade will be of no benefit and X-Plane will also run in 32-bit mode.
This enables X-Plane fans to really open up the application to their entire memory stores. To be honest (I may be wrong), but I'm sure that my copy of X-Plane running on Mac OS X already ran in 64-bit mode. Having said that, I may have already applied the update before I noticed this. If you're running OS X, you can check if X-Plane is running in 64-bit mode by loading up "Activity Monitor" and checking there...
See this image as an example:
This update will come as a great relief to many users of the software that are now running high resolution textures, lots of complex aircraft models and higher scenery settings. In fact, when you apply the update you may notice that everything seems to run a lot smoother and load quicker when doing long distance flying.
I will mention that this update will probably not increase your frame rates significantly; this is mainly because the update changes nothing on your GPU (graphics card) - so don't expect faster frame rates. However, I'd love to hear your comments below as to whether there was a major performance increase for you.
Increasing the amount of buildings, trees, shadows and terrain textures is really limited to the performance specifications of your graphics card. The faster the processor on your GPU and the more video RAM available on the card, the higher you should be able to set all of these options.
You can grab your copy of X-Plane from any good retailer and of course we have it for sale over at SimShack.net too (with worldwide shipping). Once you install the DVD version, you can update to this 10.20 release after your first load.
Enjoy 64-bit mode!