When Microsoft announced the next Xbox console some time ago, it highlighted some features of the console’s underlying architecture to demonstrate its power. Next to DirectX 12 Ultimate, which Microsoft confirmed would be coming to Windows PCs as well, it was the DirectStorage API that got gamers around the globe excited as it promised to eliminate IO bottlenecks to improve loading times significantly and as a consequence, pave the way for improved details in games.
The company notes:
With a DirectStorage capable PC and a DirectStorage enabled game, you can look forward to vastly reduced load times and virtual worlds that are more expansive and detailed than ever.
The same bottlenecks exist on modern Windows PCs, even those with the latest motherboard technology and blazing fast SSD and PCIe technologies.
Microsoft revealed on its DirectX Dev blog that the DirectStorage API will come to Windows PCs. According to the announcement, the company plans to bring a first development preview of DirectX Storage “into the hands of game developers” in the next year. It is likely that the technology will be integrated into Windows 10 Insider builds first before it becomes available to the general Windows population.
Modern computer games have evolved a lot over the pat decade. The rise of faster computer hardware, processors and video cards, high resolution displays and new display technologies, have forced developers to find new ways to load the data quickly from storage devices. One of the methods divides textures and other data into smaller chunks to improve loading times at the expense of an increase in IO operations.
Current storage APIs were not optimized for high numbers of IO requests according to Microsoft. Even modern PCs are not able to “fully saturate the IO pipeline”, and Microsoft DirectStorage technology addresses the issue.
The company notes that DirectStorage will improve the PC gaming experience in two primary ways:
- Improve loading times of games.
- Allow games to be “more detailed and expansive than ever”.
Real-world usage will show how much of a performance boost DirectStorage provides once it lands in stable versions of Windows. The technology needs fast storage devices, specific NVMe devices according to Microsoft’s announcement; this limits the reach of the new feature. Games will play just fine on PCs without the new technology according to Microsoft.
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