- What is DirectStorage?
- How Does it Work?
- Does My PC Support DirectStorage?
- What Does it Mean For Gaming?
- Should You Use DirectStorage?
Since the early days of gaming, loading times on games have been a major problem. Whether you are stuck on the loading screen or the game’s assets do not load in, we can agree that it is not an enjoyable experience. But, with the release of Microsoft’s latest technology DirectStorage, all this goes away.
DirectStorage is Microsoft’s newest SDK that coordinates with your storage device to achieve blazing fast speeds. Not only will the games load fast but the gameplay is also smooth because the textures and other assets also load faster. Sounds awesome right? Let’s see what this revolutionary technology brings to the table.
What is DirectStorage?
On the surface, DirectStorage is an API for DirectX 12 run devices that takes advantage of faster storage devices to promote faster loading times in games. This is achieved because the game assets load directly to the GPU from the drive. It has already been introduced to other Microsoft devices like the Xbox Series X, and One. It is recently launched for Windows PC.
Game developers benefit from this since now they can make use of faster drives to decrease game loading times and smoothen gaming performance. They no longer have to work with the older APIs which did not support the faster storage options.
As of now, DirectStorage supports systems with either Windows 10 or 11 and it also requires an NVMe drive alongside a GPU with DirectX 12 capabilities. However, Microsoft recommends Windows 11 which has better storage optimization features.
Now that we have looked at what DirectStorage brings to the table. Let’s see what the pros and cons are.
- Faster game load times.
- Optimal use of storage device’s read/write speed.
- Eliminate I/O request bottlenecks.
- Requires a faster NVMe drive. Preferably running on PCIe 4.0.
- Graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 is needed.
- Not many games support it as of yet.
How Does it Work?
To know how DirectStorage works we will have to figure out how the game’s assets are loaded in. Traditionally, the way it is done is – First, the game files are read by the CPU from the storage device, then it is transferred to the system memory (RAM). Then it is once more transferred to the CPU and then finally to the GPU.
This process of loading streaming assets was much of a big deal for older games. Streaming assets are game data that load in as the game’s territory expands and grows. Unlike older games, streaming assets load the data in and out instead of loading everything at once. This means that the engine the game is running on has to support this process continuously.
This is where DirectStorage comes in, it completely cuts the process. It allows the GPU to directly read the assets from the storage without the interference of the CPU or the memory. This drastically improves game load times and improves performance.
Since you are directly reading the game assets from the storage to the GPU, this means that having a storage device with faster read/write speeds – specifically SSDs running on the latest interface, is massively beneficial.
Does My PC Support DirectStorage?
Since DirectStorage is a very new concept built based on modern architecture, it also requires fairly newer technology to run at its best. For starters, it requires:
- NVMe SSD with fast read/write speeds(Above 6,000 MB/s)
- GPU running on DirectX 12
- Shader Model 6.0
- Windows 10 or 11 is required(Preferably Windows 11)
Additionally, you can check if your current system supports it or not. Follow the steps below to verify.
- Press Windows key + I to open Settings.
- Next, click on Gaming. Under Xbox Game Bar, turn it on.
- Press Windows key + Gto open the Game bar overlay.
- Click on the Cogwheel icon on the top bar to open Settings.
- Navigate to Gaming features.
- Under DirectStorage, you can view which components support it and what needs an upgrade.
What Does it Mean For Gaming?
By now you should have a basic understanding of what DirectStorage does. When going into details, there is more happening under the hood.
Most games use data streaming for data processing, this means that the loading of assets in the game involves transmitting such assets from your storage device to the 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 older APIs were simply not capable enough for it – even with the support of faster NVMe devices. To add to it, such game assets need to be decompressed for the GPU to render them properly. DirectStorage is released to counter such problems. It optimizes the entire process – from requesting data to decompressing it, eventually shortening the process and increasing performance.
In a nutshell, DirectStorage works to decrease data request load time to promote faster loading of game assets like textures, objects, and so on. Since the assets are transmitting in and out relatively faster, GPUs with less VRAM will not suffer and work just fine.
Should You Use DirectStorage?
DirectStorage opens up a whole new world of possibilities for game developers and gamers. You can enjoy blazing fast speeds without you having to sit on the loading screen waiting for the game to load in textures. This helps the game get bigger and more immersive with no boundaries.
So, if your PC is capable of running DirectStorage, you can look forward to fully enjoying its benefits with games. Talking about games, since the API support was just recently launched not every developer has started using it. Luminous Productions were the first developers to implement DirectStorage in their latest title “Forspoken”.