Microsoft formally released the DirectStorage 1.1 API to game developers on Monday, allowing them to take advantage of GPU-accelerated game asset decompression, to help minimize game loading times.
DirectStorage establishes a path for GPUs to directly access storage devices on a system. With version 1.1, the API introduces a way by which the PC can use the GPU to decompress game assets. Microsoft is also promoting GDeflate, a new file compression format developed by NVIDIA, which is optimized for highly parallelized decompression techniques, making it suitable for GPUs. NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD, have each responded positively to this development, and rolled out early drivers with DirectStorage 1.1 support, which can be used by game developers or students. The three will add official DirectStorage 1.1 support to their regular driver update channels later.
DirectStorage for Windows is an API that allows game developers to unlock the full potential of high speed NVMe drives for loading game assets.
DirectStorage is a feature intended to allow games to make full use of high-speed storage (such as NVMe SSDs) that can can deliver multiple gigabytes a second of small (eg 64kb) data reads with minimal CPU overhead. Although it is possible to saturate a drive using traditional ReadFile-based IO the CPU overhead of increases non-linearly as the size of individual reads decreases. Additionally, most games choose to store their assets compressed on disk in order to reduce the install footprint, with these assets being decompressed on the fly as load time. The CPU overhead of this becomes increasingly expensive as bandwidth increases.
Video game consoles such as the XBox Series X|S address these issues by offloading aspects of this to hardware – making use of the NVMe hardware queue to manage IO and hardware accelerated decompression. As we expect to see more titles designed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by this architecture it becomes important that Windows has similar capabilities.
The DirectStorage API already exists on Xbox and in order to ease porting of titles between Xbox and Windows, the two APIs are as similar as possible.
DirectStorage only supports read operations.
DirectStorage 1.1 early-support (not official) drivers for