X-Plane 940 beta 1 is out...it will take a little bit to get the release notes and docs on the website completely up-to-date. We're still dealing with loose ends from our migration to the new web site, and most of my office is packed up for a move to the Boston area. I'll try to get docs up as fast as I can given the chaos flying about.
Given the interest multi-core stirred up in previous notes, I will mention one change to 940: with this build we've added yet more multi-core to X-Plane.
In 931, X-Plane will use as many cores as you have to load textures, but only one to build "3-d scenery" (a loose category for the work we do when we make airport taxiways and lines, build forests, and extrude roads).
In 940, this "3-d scenery" is also done on as many cores as you have. This should speed up load times a bit, particularly under very heavy tree settings, and hopefully keep the forest engine running faster for users with more cores.
It also sets us up for long-term growth; X-Plane's visual quality is sometimes limited by the time to build 3-d meshes...being able to do this work on many cores means we can use higher quality algorithms.
Consider for example the roads: my original "road extruder" (the code that converts a vector road into a 3-d model, called an extruder because it builds a 3-d road from a cross section like one of those play-dough toys) made beautiful intersections with stop-lines and cross walks and lots of other great stuff.
It was also really slow. And at the time the sim wouldn't fly at all while roads were extruded, so speed was of primary concern. So I replaced it with the much dumber extruder you see today, where intersections are basically ignored.
Now that we have 3-d scenery build on multiple cores, we can begin to provide rendering options that take more CPU time but produce higher quality results. The trees and airport layouts already do this (in that they take more time and produce slower, more detailed, higher triangle count sceneery at higher rendering setting for the same input DSF ad apt.dat file). With more cores, we can continue this strategy with roads and other parts of the sim without worrying about overloading the one core that was doing this work.
Of course just because we can use 8 cores doesn't mean we do...you won't see 8 cores maxed out very often, particularly if you have simple scenery and a very fast machine.