Microsoft's DirectStorage API will NVMe storage a must for gamers
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Published: 21st April 2021 | Source: Microsoft |
Microsoft's DirectStorage API will make NVMe storage a must for gamers
Microsoft's DirectStorage API was designed for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The DirectStorage standard will also be coming to PC for everyone with PCIe Gen 3 (or faster) NVMe storage and a DirectX 12 compatible graphics card, delivering the same performance benefits to gamers on PC and Xbox. That said, DirectStorage is best used with DirectX 12 Ultimate compatible graphics hardware.
DirectStorage is designed to make more efficient use of system resources and take advantage of modern NVMe storage solutions, reducing I/O overhead on CPUs while also feeding graphics cards with data faster.
Today, traditional storage mechanisms feed data from storage and onto system memory, decompresses the data on your CPU, and then load the GPU memory data. With DirectStorage, the same data could be loaded onto your graphics card's VRAM using a more direct path, saving CPU resources and system memory in the process. That said, this will force your graphics card to decompress its own data, spending some GPU resources.
Using DirectStorage, developers of Xbox and Windows games can load assets onto GPU memory with less latency and reduce the CPU overhead of high I/O rates. This change will free up CPU resources for other tasks, boosting CPU performance while also allowing assets to be loaded onto GPU memory faster.
DirectStorage is designed to allow gaming systems to take full advantage of the high I/O rates of NVMe storage solutions. This factor will enable games to exploit the performance benefits of SSD storage. This innovation will allow developers to create larger and more varied game worlds, as DirectStorage will make asset streaming a speedy process.
DirectStorage is a gamechanger, enabling faster loading times while enabling a more varied gaming experience. With games taking full advantage of NVMe storage, loading times will become much shorter, and in some cases, they may disappear entirely.
With Microsoft new storage API, game developers will be able to optimise their programs to utilise the performance of ultra-fast NVMe SSDs, feed graphics cards with data at a faster rate with less latency and reduce the system overhead of high I/O rates. These benefits are achieved through extra parallelism, more direct storage access and optimising I/O with SSDs in mind.
With decompression workloads moving onto graphics cards, Microsoft has worked to create GPU-friendly compression solutions that work well on modern graphics cards. That said, Microsoft has laid the groundwork for a DirectCompute decompressor, which can be implemented in silicon to deliver ultra-fast decompression rates on future CPUs and GPUs.
In the past, SSDs were treated by software as fast HDDs, often failing to take advantage of the strengths of the medium. While today's fastest NVMe SSDs are orders of magnitude faster than their SATA-based counterparts, the performance disparity between these products rarely seen in consumer application, especially in games. Moving forward, this will change. Microsoft's DirectStorage API will allow developers to exploit NVMe storage fully, and in time that will make NVMe SSDs a must for PC gamers.
As we move further into the current console generation, games will make more extensive use of the NVMe SSDs within Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5. This movement will make NVMe storage a must for PC gamers, as storage speeds will soon impact loading times and gameplay.
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