Since the early days of gaming, loading times in games have been a major issue. If you’re stuck on the loading screen or the game’s assets aren’t loading, we can agree that it’s not very pleasant. But with the release of the latest Microsoft DirectStorage technology, all that is gone.
DirectStorage is the latest SDK from Microsoft that coordinates with your storage device for lightning speed. Not only will games load quickly, but gameplay will also be smooth because textures and other assets will also load faster. Sounds amazing, right? Let’s see what this revolutionary technology will bring to the table.
What is DirectStorage?
At first glance, DirectStorage is an API for DirectX 12 devices that takes advantage of faster storage devices to load games faster. This is achieved by having the game assets loaded directly onto the GPU from disk. It has already been introduced on other Microsoft devices such as the Xbox Series X and One. It has recently been launched for Windows PC.
Game developers benefit from this as they can now use faster drives to reduce game load times and improve game performance. They no longer need to work with older APIs that didn’t support faster storage options.
DirectStorage currently supports systems running Windows 10 or 11 and also requires an NVMe drive along with a GPU with DirectX 12 capabilities. However, Microsoft recommends Windows 11 which has better storage optimization features.
Now that we’ve covered what DirectStorage offers. Let’s see what are the pros and cons.
- Faster game loading.
- Optimal use of the read/write speed of the storage device.
- Eliminate I/O request bottlenecks.
- Requires a faster NVMe drive. Preferably running on PCIe 4.0.
- DirectX 12 compatible graphics card required.
- So far, not many games support it.
How it works?
To find out how DirectStorage works, we need to figure out how game assets are loaded. Traditionally, this is done as follows: first, the game files are read by the processor from the storage device, and then transferred to the system. memory (RAM). It is then passed once more to the CPU, and then finally to the GPU.
This process of downloading streaming resources was very important for older games. Stream assets are game data that is downloaded as the game territory expands and grows. Unlike older games, streaming resources download and upload data instead of downloading everything at once. This means that the engine that runs the game must constantly support this process.
This is where DirectStorage comes in, it completely cuts down the process. This allows the GPU to directly read assets from storage without CPU or memory intervention. This greatly reduces game loading times and improves performance.
Since you are directly reading game assets from storage to the GPU, this means that having a storage device with faster read/write speeds, especially SSDs running on the latest interface, is extremely advantageous.
Does my computer support DirectStorage?
Because DirectStorage is a very new concept based on a modern architecture, it also requires fairly new technologies to work optimally. To get started you need:
- NVMe SSD with high read/write speed (over 6000MB/s)
- GPU runs on DirectX 12
- Shader Model 6.0
- Requires Windows 10 or 11 (preferably Windows 11)
Also, you can check if your current system supports it or not. Follow the steps below to check.
- Press Windows Key + I to open Settings.
- Next click on Games. Under Xbox Game Barturn it on.
- Press Windows key + G to open the game bar overlay.
- Press on Gear icon on the top bar to open settings.
- Switch to Gaming features.
- Under DirectStorageyou can view which components support it and which require updating.
What does this mean for games?
By now, you should have a basic understanding of what DirectStorage does. Going into details, there’s more going on under the hood.
Most games use data streaming to process data, which means that loading resources in a game involves transferring those resources from your storage device to your GPU. These assets are usually divided into blocks, which are then requested by the game from the storage device.
Over time, these requests grew in size, and the old APIs simply weren’t suitable for this – even with support for faster NVMe devices. In addition, such game assets need to be decompressed in order for the GPU to display them correctly. DirectStorage is released to address these issues. It streamlines the entire process, from querying data to decompressing it, ultimately speeding up the process and improving performance.
In short, DirectStorage is working on reducing the data request load time to speed up the loading of game resources such as textures, objects, etc. Since resources are transferred relatively faster, GPUs with less video memory will not be affected and will work normally.
Should I use DirectStorage?
DirectStorage opens up a whole new world of possibilities for game developers and gamers. You can enjoy blazing speed without having to sit on a loading screen waiting for the game to load textures. This helps the game to become bigger and more exciting without any boundaries.
So, if your computer supports DirectStorage, you can count on it to fully enjoy its benefits in games. When it comes to games, since API support was launched quite recently, not all developers started using it. Luminous Productions was the first developer to implement DirectStorage in their latest game, Forspoken.