Microsoft has announced that a new version of DirectStorage will be released to game developers before the end of 2022, and will come a significant step forward in terms of accelerating load times with SSD’s.
As you may know, DirectStorage is the feature that debuted on Xbox that delivers faster load times – and better performance in loading game assets in the big open world titles – and is It first arrived for Windows PC back in March.
What Microsoft has now open (Opens in a new tab) (Hint hat to Tom’s devices (Opens in a new tab)) is that DirectStorage 1.1, a new version built with GPU decompression technology, will be here very soon. Although there aren’t any games you’ll benefit from (yet – we’ll get back to this obviously crucial point).
Microsoft has already told us that DirectStorage (DS) will reduce load times by up to 40% – for games running on fast NVMe SSDs running on Windows 11 And this new piece of the DS puzzle, GPU Decompression, will deliver something in the order of doubling load-time performance, the company promises.
Normally, decompression (for compressed game assets, which has to be minified due to its huge size) is powered by the CPU, but what Microsoft does is turn that grunt work directly into the GPU.
Microsoft explains: “Graphics are very efficient at performing reproducible tasks in parallel, and we can take advantage of this capability along with the bandwidth of a high-speed NVMe drive to do more work simultaneously.”
In a Microsoft demo, the company explained that when DirectStorage is running with a GPU decompressor, compared to traditional CPU decompression, “scenes are loaded approximately three times faster and the CPU is almost completely freed up for use in other game processes.” (In this demo, the processor saw only 15% of max usage, by the way, compared to 100% usage when the DS wasn’t used.)
Now, keep in mind that this is a carefully chosen and ‘highly optimized’ offering (in Microsoft’s own words), but it certainly promises some big gains overall, which should see games that support DirectStorage load – and run – more smoothly. -circular.
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It’s worth noting that while DirectStorage is built with ultra-fast NVMe SSDs in mind, it will still work with slower SSDs (and hard disks indeed, to some extent); But the effect will not be nearly as obvious. Storage acceleration technology will also work well on Windows 10 devices as well, but Windows 11 introduces an advance in the storage optimization interface which again means DS delivers more impact. (Also, you need a file Contemporary GPU For DS to work, i.e. one with DX12 support and Shader Model 6).
Still the main catch is that although the work on DirectStorage is going well, there is still computer games that already supports the technology. We were supposed to get our first DS show game this month, Forspoken, But it was delayed until January 2023 (And it was actually brought back before then, which is disappointing.)
However, we only have a few months left – assuming there are no more hiccups – but until then, it’s just one game. No doubt it will be a while before broader support is adopted among PC game developers, but when it does, it could become a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 11 for gamers (and a good reason to get an NVMe SSD for those who haven’t). You haven’t yet made the jump to the storage interface.)