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Spherical buffer = Perf upgrade nr 2

This update is basically another performance update. This was one of the 5 performance paths we had in the 1.14 update plans. We did not implement it then since it will take us at least a month to implement and test if it even works in the X-Plane environment. We decided to add it later so we wouldn't delay 1.14 longer than necessary. Fingers crossed that we're not in a dead end. The reward will be great if it works and so far it looks promising!


First ever image of Spherical Buffer in X-Plane. And in any sim as far as I am aware.. Don't quote me on this 😄
Yep - Minecraft comes to mind. It's the tech that counts at this point.

With the Spherical Buffer we hope to be able to get to the point where we can start adding more features like thunderstorms, multi screen support and VR. If you wonder what Spherical buffer is - read up on space observation tech. How we implement it and parts of it's functions are trade secret at this point 😉


With a bit of tweaking we're back to more familiar clouds. But with some huge tricks up their sleaves I seriously hope we can exploit. Crossing fingers and toes that this will turn out well in the end. We just won't know until we add back all features in the next test runs.



Let me explain in short what happened in the past updates:


  • Major performance update
  • Additional functions and features as a result of a complete rewrite of the core
  • This was the incredibly long update that took a year to finish... 


  • Vulkan update (11.50 compatible)
  • Dynamic seasons only available in OpenGL since the needed access is not available in Vulkan.


  • X-Plane 11.51 hotfix (X-Plane 11.51 and above)
  • Not compatible with earlier versions of X-Plane (in Vulkan)


A comment on dynamic seasons
I see that there is confusion about dynamic seasons. And as much as we want dynamic seasons ourselves, it has never been a part of our feature list. It is an experimental feature because we could add it in our pipeline and get it to work. In OpenGL. We will try to convince Laminar that X-Plane needs dynamic seasons and MAYBE we will get the access needed to actually execute that feature without the flaws it suffers under in its current state in OpenGL. So far we have had a closed door but we will continue the talk. (We have a poll running in the facebook group where you can add your vote for our seasons - so maybe Laminar will see the community whish for such a feature.) You can also address this to Laminar directly. Any pressure from the community will help us in getting the access we need.

But I repeat: dynamic seasons has never and will never be promised as a feature in xEnviro. And we are running two pipelines of development currently to keep your whishes for this feature active in OpenGL. How long we can keep this up is a huge question mark though.




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hello world

1.17 task #1: Spherical buffer - ongoing

Status: 1.17.t30

  • Spherical buffer initial proof of concept test - done
  • Spherical buffer core code conversion (t01 - t28) - done
  • Spherical buffer pipeline initiated (t29 - txx) - done
  • Spherical buffer adjustments and adaptation - ongoing
  • Spherical buffer evaluation - ongoing
  • 1.17.txx test team push - imminent
  • 1.17.bxx test team push - not started


(Image by beta test team member xE 1.16)

I have been pretty silent lately, so far this year in fact, and I apologize for that. In a sense I am eating my own words at the moment. "...but we are trying to get away from the huge gaps between releases."  1.15 was released 25th of december. 1.16 was the Vulkan hotfix and... Yeah. Time flies. But there has been a lot that has demanded the teams attention in real life both in regards of our day jobs and privately. So progression on the new update has been slow. Since we have some new users asking about the known issues we listed in 1.15 I'll repeat them here. Several of these will probably be solved by the spherical buffer conversion and if they persist we will have room for improvement in later updates. 

So here's the list of known issues

  • Precipitation follows camera
  • Snow coverage may appear in the regions where no snowfall encountered recently
  • Default X-Plane night triggers lights artifacts
  • Cloud edge artifacts
  • In cloud artifacts
  • Cirrus clouds may affect colorization of clouds beneath
  • Low level clouds may be combined

You can find an updated list at xenviro.net

To add to the silence, there has not been anything interesting to show visually at this stage of 1.17 development. xEnviro has been in peaces again. 1.17 has just left pre' Alpha state which is just pure code. We are currently done with the code conversion and are now adapting all of xE code to the new tech. We are constantly evaluating if this is a sensible direction to take.

If you are wondering what spherical buffer is, you're not alone. 🙂 I won't disclose what spherical buffer is other than that it's nothing new. But as far as we know this has not been done before in this application, let a lone in X-Plane. So we're treading unknown grounds again but we're taking this risk because the benefits are huge if we pull it off. Treading new ground is nothing new. We were the first to go public with volumetric clouds in flightsim scale. We think that was the only sensible choice at the time and one of the best decisions we have ever made albeit controversial and demanding. 

As per usual I do not give any ETA's for the release but we have made progress and this is just an update to tell you all that we're still alive and working on 1.17.



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