DirectStorage API Launches for PC, Enabling Faster Loading Times in Windows Games

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Image: Microsoft

Ready to put that pricey NVMe SSD to even better use? Good, as Microsoft has finally launched its DirectStorage API for PC, ushering in an exciting new era of Windows games that feature faster loading times and more detailed worlds courtesy of the latest advancements in the storage space. Contrary to initial plans, DirectStorage is compatible with both Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices, although Microsoft has been quick to recommend the latter for its newer optimizations and broader hardware support. Square Enix’s Forspoken is one of the first PC games that will benefit from DirectStorage.

DirectStorage API Now Available on PC (Microsoft)

  • Starting today, Windows games can ship with DirectStorage. This public SDK release begins a new era of fast load times and detailed worlds in PC games by allowing developers to more fully utilize the speed of the latest storage devices.
  • While you may see benefits on any kind of storage device, installing games to an NVMe SSD will maximize your IO performance and help you more fully experience the benefits of DirectStorage.
  • This release of DirectStorage provides developers everything they need to move to a new model of IO for their games, and we’re working on even more ways to offload work from the CPU. GPU decompression is next on our roadmap, a feature that will give developers more control over resources and how hardware is leveraged.

DirectStorage is coming to PC (Microsoft)

  • In order to be used by the CPU or GPU, [assets] must first be decompressed. A game can pull as much data off the disk as it wants, but you still need an efficient way to decompress and get it to the GPU for rendering. By using DirectStorage, your games are able to leverage the best current and upcoming decompression technologies.
  • In a world where a game knows it needs to load and decompress thousands of blocks for the next frame, the one-at-a-time model results in loss of efficiency at various points in the data block’s journey. The DirectStorage API is architected in a way that takes all this into account and maximizes performance throughout the entire pipeline from NVMe drive all the way to the GPU.
  • It does this in several ways: by reducing per-request NVMe overhead, enabling batched many-at-a-time parallel IO requests which can be efficiently fed to the GPU, and giving games finer grain control over when they get notified of IO request completion instead of having to react to every tiny IO completion.
  • In this way, developers are given an extremely efficient way to submit/handle many orders of magnitude more IO requests than ever before ultimately minimizing the time you wait to get in game, and bringing you larger, more detailed virtual worlds that load in as fast as your game character can move through it.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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