Microsoft announces DirectStorage 1.1, a technology that speeds up game loading on PCs

First introduced on Xbox consoles, the technology can dramatically shorten PC game wait times by accessing GPU-accelerated capabilities for loading video textures without involving the system processor.

Pairing perfectly with the new generation of NVMe interface SSDs, DirectStorage technology allows huge volumes of data to be transferred directly to the video card’s memory, bypassing operating system inefficiencies and system processor limitations.

Suggestively dubbed the “DirectStorage API”, the path offered to game developers also alleviates a very pressing limitation of “budget” PCs: the limited amount of available video memory. So even if you have a video card with less video memory, the constant loading of resources from game files should induce less stuttering in the image rendered on the screen, at least as long as the installed SSD keeps up with the requests received for loading the necessary textures. The main problem is that most compression technologies are designed for the CPU, and delegating this task to the GPU requires not-so-easy changes on the software side, involving both driver and operating system support, and game developers, who would have to “package” the installation files using a compatible compression algorithm.

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Assuming the PC has a fast enough SSD, DirectStorage technology promises to dramatically shorten wait times when loading game levels, and further reduce to insignificant the slowdowns caused by loading resources from non-volatile memory space. But DirectStorage technology has undeniable advantages even for high-end PCs, making it easier to develop more detailed worlds in games without the constraint of accommodating all the necessary resources (e.g. textures, shaders) in video card memory. Instead, they will be able to be dynamically loaded when needed.

Once updated with the new technology provided by Microsoft, even today’s PCs should benefit from relieving the processor of the burden of loading memory resources.

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