The DirectStorage team at Microsoft has announced that DirectStorage 1.1 is now available, offering faster load times in supported games. DirectStorage is an alternative method for asset compression and decompression in games. Traditionally this task has primarily been handled by the CPU and then copied over to GPU memory. DirectStorage aims to offload this task, via the faster speeds of NVMe drives, to the GPU instead. By enabling GPU compression/decompression load times can be greatly reduced while also freeing up CPU resources. However, developers must implement DirectStorage on their own but Microsoft has provided the resources on GitHub and optimized drivers as well for AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA.
“GPU decompression is supported on all DirectX 12 + Shader Model 6.0 GPUs. However, one of the benefits of DirectStorage 1.1 is that GPU hardware vendors can provide additional optimizations for their hardware, called metacommands. For more information about support for these metacommands from our partners, see the links below. As always, we recommend updating to the latest drivers for your gaming hardware for the best performance.
Previously announced in October, DirectStorage 1.1 has yet to be implemented in any games but NVIDIA has already incorporated it with its RTX IO: GPU-Accelerated Storage Technology as of the Game Ready Driver (version 526.47). Square Enix and Luminous Productions’ upcoming fantasy RPG, Forspoken teased a load time of 1.7 seconds but that game release has been pushed back to 2023. DirectStorage is supported by any DX12-enabled GPU with Windows 10 or 11 and is already used by Xbox Series X consoles.
Everything is faster
At a time when game textures, and other assets, are reaching epic sizes due to increased resolutions for 4K gaming, new methods of loading them hold promise for greatly improved gaming experiences. From innovations with consoles, as seen with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, to PC with AMD’s Smart Access Memory and NVIDIA’s Resizable BAR, to faster drives (NVME Gen3/Gen4), interfaces (PCIe 4.0/5.0), and memory (DDR4/DDR5 and GDDR6X), many technologies are coming together to make these promises a reality. Now it will just take time for developers to adopt to DirectStorage on PC for upcoming games.