3X Faster Game Load Times Are Promised by Microsoft’s DirectStorage 1.1

Microsoft’s initiative to speed up PC game loading times, DirectStorage 1.0, is still waiting to be adopted by game developers. However, the business is still working on a new version of DirectStorage that should further reduce download times.

Microsoft released introduced (Opens in a new window) DirectStorage 1.1 on Thursday, which will use the PC’s GPU to speed up game loading even more. In the announcement, Microsoft program manager Cassie Hoef stated that “this is one of our most highly requested features.”

According to Hoef, who cited a demonstration of the technology in use, the new methodology can load gaming scenes almost three times quicker than existing data compression techniques.

How PC games are downloaded and installed in compressed data formats is addressed in DirectStorage 1.1. In order for the GPU to use the game assets as in-game graphics, the computer’s CPU will then decompress the game assets. The amount of information that may be incorporated in open world scenarios is constrained by the transfer and decompression of these assets on gaming platforms, according to Hoef.

In order to load several game data requests simultaneously rather than one at a time, DirectStorage 1.0 uses faster NVME SSD storage disks. According to Hoef, this can result in a 40% reduction in load times.

On the other hand, by removing the CPU from the data-decompression process in DirectStorage 1.1, the data loading is made even more efficient. Instead, the GPU is used to offload the data decompression, leaving the CPU free to tackle other duties.

Hoef continued, “Graphics cards are very effective at completing repeatable tasks in parallel, and we can use that capability coupled with the bandwidth of a high-speed NVMe disk to do more work at once. The time it takes for an object to load decreases as a result, which lowers level load times and enhances open world streaming.

Hoef then cited a screen capture of a computer using DirectStorage GPU decompression as opposed to CPU decompression. According to the results, the PC loads a 5.6GB gaming scene faster when the GPU decompression is used than when the CPU decompression is used, which takes 2.36 seconds.

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Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 will support DirectStorage 1.1, however the latter will perform more effectively. Any GPU that can run DirectX 12 and has Shader Model 6.0 support will be able to use the new capability, according to Hoef. In 2015, DirectX 12 was released.

By the end of this year, the business intends to make DirectStorage 1.1 available to software developers. This includes making available GDeflate, a brand-new data-compression standard that Microsoft developed with Nvidia. The business also stated that “Microsoft is working with important partners like AMD, Intel, and Nvidia to deliver drivers customized for this format.”

The decision to use the technology will, however, be up to game developers. Only one future PC game has so far made it known that it will use DirectStorage 1.0: the action-RPG Forspoken. The game’s January release has been postponed from its initial December date.

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