The recent announcement of Windows systems integrating DirectStorage has raised gamers’ expectations worldwide. This Xbox-based storage improvement API allows developers to drastically improve the user’s gameplay experience. In this article, we’ll go over how to enable direct storage and everything you need to know about it.
What Is Direct Storage on Windows 11?
Microsoft’s DirectStorage is a low-level storage API, that you can use to load your games in milliseconds.
DirectStorage saves all of the game’s assets to your computer’s hard drive when you load it. This includes graphics, sounds, maps, and character models. The game then uses an Application Programming Interface (API) to access the data on the hard drive.
APIs are responsible for storing and retrieving data from the system’s hard drive into the system’s RAM. After that, it’s sent to be rendered by the computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU).
In order to preserve storage space, a game’s data is compressed before being downloaded. It is not possible to use compressed data on the GPU. As a result, decompression occurs on the CPU rather than in RAM. The game is then transferred to the GPU’s VRAM for display.
There is a bottleneck between the CPU and the graphics card or GPU because of compression difficulties. The legacy process of loading via the CPU is slower.
To alleviate these bottlenecks and improve PC gaming, Microsoft has introduced DirectStorage, which was previously only accessible for Xbox Series X/S game creators.
Since it replaces older APIs, DirectStorage has a lot to offer to developers. For starters, decompression at the CPU level is no longer possible after transferring game data into your PC’s RAM. DirectStorage, on the other hand, incorporates innovative GPU compression methods. There is no delay in rendering graphics since the GPU receives a large amount of compressed data at once and doesn’t have to wait. Modern high-end GPUs are required to decompress data at a faster rate than CPUs.
Earlier APIs for gaming read data at a far slower rate, at paces of MB/s or less. DirectStorage takes advantage of the NVMe SSD’s GB/s speed and bandwidth. This results in improved framerates, near-instant loading times, and enables game developers to make more complex games. The only thing holding you back right now is the lack of DirectStorage support in games that can take advantage of Windows 11’s new features.
How to Enable DirectStorage in Windows 11
As DirectStorage is an API, you don’t need to do anything to activate this function if you’re using Windows 11. However, you need to wait on third-party developers’ inclusion of this functionality. Your computer will take care of the rest when you start up a DirectStorage-compatible title.
This feature has not yet been implemented in any games at the time of writing. The first DirectStorage-enabled games are expected to arrive in early 2023. We’ll have to wait and see how soon the gaming industry adopts this new technology.
Is DirectStorage Necessary?
No. If you don’t have DirectStorage, you can still play your games as you’ve been doing so far. However, DirectStorage will enhance your gaming experience. So, it’s a nice thing to have, but it’s not necessary.
Does My PC Have Direct Storage?
Not every machine can run the DirectStorage subsystem. In order to utilize DirectStorage, you must have a computer that meets its system requirements. You’ll need a 1TB NVMe SSD (or larger) to save and play your games. NVMe drives must also be able to support and use the Standard NVM Express Controller driver, which is required by the NVMe specification and shouldn’t be a huge setback.
You’ll also need a powerful GPU capable of running DirectX 12 Ultimate and supporting the Shader Model 6.0. Nvidia RTX 2000 or RTX 3000 series or AMD RDNA 2 graphics cards are required.
Using DirectStorage in conjunction with gaming is possible if you meet the minimum system requirements and have the proper hardware.
PCs also need to have either Windows 11 or Window 10 patch 1909 and above.
DirectStorage Performance Comparison – Windows 11 vs. Windows 10
For games running on Windows 11, the new DirectStorage improvements will have a more significant impact because DirectStorage API is incorporated into Windows 11. The improved memory stack system in Windows 11 allows for better performance than the legacy OS stack in Windows 10, and future Windows patches won’t change the legacy features. Nevertheless, don’t be discouraged if you’re using Windows 10 because DirectStorage will still benefit Windows 10 users so long as your system is up to date. You will still have all the benefits mentioned above, like faster data loading and increased frame rates, but the raw speed won’t be as high as on Windows 11.
Therefore, if you want to stay on the cutting edge of gaming performance, it may be necessary for you to install the latest operating system. Luckily, that’s relatively straightforward with Windows 11’s free upgrade plan.
Even while DirectStorage is still in its infancy, game creators will soon be able to create high-quality games without having to deal with lengthy loading times. Gamers will enjoy a new level of immersion in their favorite games but also other PC software will benefit from the DirectStorage like Office.
Which version of Windows is better for DirectStorage?
DirectStorage performs significantly better in Windows 11 due to the implementation of new storage stack improvements.
Is DirectStorage a whole new application programming interface (API)?
Not entirely. The DirectStorage API is included on both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles from Microsoft. However, it’s completely new when it comes to Windows.
Is DirectStorage already available for download? Where can I download it?
In July 2021, the DirectStorage Developer Preview was made available. DirectStorage API for PC can now be downloaded from Microsoft’s website.
DirectStorage Still Has a Long Way to Go
DirectStorage can theoretically play a critical part in enhancing the gaming experience of thousands of PC gamers. Still, video game makers are not totally on board with the idea at this time. Microsoft is attempting to make DirectStorage a de facto industry norm, but only time can tell whether or not their efforts are successful.
Game developers will now be able to create worlds that are larger in scope and have higher-quality visuals. Provided that your games support DirectStorage, you’ll also enjoy significantly quicker loading times.
The current state of DirectStorage support is inconsistent, but is expected to improve over the next several years as the technology matures.
What do you think about Windows incorporating DirectStorage? How will it affect the gaming world, in your opinion? Let us know in the comment section below!