Archive: October, 2007

FSX Acceleration Pack Released

IGN recently posted a review of the new FSX Acceleration Pack with Direct X-10 (link below). Overall it got a good review and the author reports good performance on a new system for all but the most intense scenery in populated areas. However, the exact system specs weren’t recorded so it’ s difficult to compare that finding with other FSX reviews.

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Should I run FSX in XP or Vista? 32-bit or 64-bit?

Yesterday I discussed the summary of my findings for seeing what people had to say about SLI and multi-core processors and FSX; however, another very important fundamental point to consider when designing my new computer for FSX will be the choice of operating system. It has to be Windows, there’s no getting around that, but within the Windows platform there are a number of options.

Windows, and computing in general, are going through a major transition phase at the moment on two primary fronts. First, Vista was released within the last year and so many users are now slowly switching over to the newest generation of Windows. Furthermore, PC based computing is also slowly taking on 64-bit infrastructure. These two facts combined mean that anyone looking to build a new gaming system for FSX needs to decide what choice is best for them.

XP or Vista?
Vista and its whole catalogue of different versions (seriously, what’s wrong with just having one version with all the features like OSX?) represents, for better or worse, the future of PC based computing for at least the next several years. In regards to FSX, there are several advantages to running Vista over XP. The biggest advantage by far is the introduction of the graphics standard Direct X10. At the moment, only Vista utilizes Direct X10 although it’s possible that a later service pack may introduce it to XP. The soon to be released “FSX Acceleration Pack” contains the associated software upgrades for Direct X10 (note that you’re video hardware must also be capable of running Direct X10 or else you won’t see the associated enhancements).

There have also been many reports of people saying that FSX has been ‘designed to take advantage of Vista.’ I have not personally had the opportunity to perform side-by-side performance tests on identical hardware setups so it’s unclear exactly how much of a performance advantage (if any) is gained by Vista. However, with the introduction of Direct X10 to FSX it seems that choosing Vista is a no-brainer.

32-bit or 64-bit?
First off, what does this mean? For those who are not familiar with the difference here is a quick summary. In short, most personal computers currently on the market are ’32-bit’ systems. This means that the hardware, specifically the CPU, is looking at no more than 32 bits of data in a single processing cycle. However, a 64-bit system can look at 64-bits of data in a single cycle. The potential impact on computing power can be significant as the system can process much more data at once without physically running any faster (in terms of computing cycles, e.g. 3.0 GHz). A simple analogy would be to consider the ‘power’ of a lawnmower engine running a 2000 rpm vs. a sports car engine running at 2000 rpm. Both are running at the same ‘speed’ in terms of cycles per second, but the larger engine can output a lot more power in each cycle.

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Using FSX with SLI and multi-core processors… does it work?

The first stage of this project will focus on building a computer to run FSX. So far as gaming goes FSX is probably one of, if not the most, demanding programs currently on the market. I mean think about it, the software contains a 3D dynamic simulation of the entire world whilst also simulating the systems and physics of an airplane, traffic, ATC… all in high-resolution graphics. Not surprisingly, many people report struggling to run the software on their own systems.

Some have been very critical of this, saying that Microsoft shouldn’t release software which perhaps (although I am to test this myself) can’t be run at full power on any reasonable consumer computer. I, however, share a different view. I think it’s good for the software manufacturers to test the limits of current hardware. Specifically with FSX, one can always turn down the settings to achieve better performance. But more importantly, I think it’s great that designers are building software that demands state-of-the-art computing technology. There isn’t much point in investing in a top-end high-performance gaming computer if the software isn’t going to test the limits of the hardware!

Anyway enough of that and onto some specifics. My first area of research for building my FSX computer (as I’m calling it) is how well FSX works with Scalable Link Interface (SLI) video card technology and multi-core processors. In short, is it worth investing more project money in these additional technologies or would such an investment just be wasted money? If you’re not familiar with SLI and multi-core processors here is the super-quick summary:

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A preview of what’s to come…

Now that the site is set up and running, here is a brief preview of what to expect on this site in the next few months. I expect things to progress in several general stages as follows:

– Research into optimal components for the primary FS computer (to run FSX)

– Parts sourcing and construction of primary FS computer

– Optimization of FSX on new primary computer

– Design of home-built cockpit panel concept

– Background work into designing the components of the cockpit panel

– Sourcing of parts and construction of the cockpit panel

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Welcome to FlightSimulationGuru.com

Welcome to this new flight simulation site FlightSimulatorGuru.com! As discussed on the ‘About This Site’ page, I am currently planning, building and testing my own home flight simulation system. This project does not (yet) aim to build a full scale ultra-realistic home flight simulator, but instead seeks to take things to the next level beyond just a single monitor, keyboard, mouse and joystick. The planning and development of what the ‘next level’ actually means will develop via the discussion on this site in the coming months.

Although some investment will be made in the project, one of the primary goals will be to get maximum bang-for-buck and hence I expect to build some components myself. Furthermore, as much as possible I will be documenting step-by-step what decisions I make during the project, what items are purchased and how/why they are a put together and utilized in a particular way.

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