Today I had a window in my schedule and it was a prime time to do some real-world-quality practice in the sim. I haven’t been in the actual Cirrus SR20 I rent for two weeks thanks to Covid-19, so it’s essential that I use the sim to keep the aviation brain fresh, especially for checklists and IFR procedures.
Fortunately, VR in the vFlyteAir SR 20 is an excellent way to do this, given its very realistic flight and operational model. So today I decided to log on to PilotEdge and simulate a flight under real-world weather conditions from Seattle to Spokane (KSEA to KGEG), filing ZADON ZELAK ZIRAN ZOOMR.ZOOMR1 GANGS. PilotEdge ATC gave me the Seattle 7 departure, so I was able to practice a SID as well, and when arriving in Spokane I shot the RNAV (GPS) Y RNW 8 approach. The vFlyteAir simulation of the Cirrus Garmin Perspective system handles this sort of IFR work reasonably well, with some modifications and concessions compared to the real-world system.
This flight was also over Orbx Washington TrueEarth HD scenery, which is always taxing on my CPU-limited system. For VR settings I selected HDR, FXAA, one notch below max objects, reflections at 1, shadows off. I used VMI-twick to regulate frame rates. To sharpen the image in VR, I used supersampling of 1.6. Weather was multiple levels of scattered and broken clouds. Overall, on the ramp in SEA I was getting 25 frames or so, and they were relatively smooth. At lower frame rates leaving Oculus AWS off provides a smoother experience for me. Once the frames get to 40 FPS, it’s smoother with AWS set to auto. The flight went with no problems at all — no crashes, no significant stutters, no hangs. The system preformed quite well. I find that in these types of scenarios — complex scenery, urban area, big airport, and weather — with Vulkan I just can’t push all the sliders to max in VR. My CPU just can’t take it (the 1080ti hums along just fine). But with them backed off just a bit, the performance is great. In more normal settings, I can up the anti-aliasing quite a bit (and turn off the supersampling). I also suspect the fastest performance I’ve had to date is to turn HDR off, and use supersampling with no anti-aliasing, but the shimmers are just hard to take. It’s clear to me, though, that Vulkan is providing sharper images in the VR headset than OpenGL did — I can read things just fine with HDR anti-aliasing on and no supersampling.
All this is to say that I’m quite pleased. Using VR to stay proficient is now really an excellent option as Vulkan makes the whole thing visually smooth and quite appealing on my system. It was good before, now it’s really good. And as new betas come online, I expect it to only improve.