Microsoft’s DirectStorage for Windows is ready – PC gaming will be drastically improved

Microsoft delivers the API for DirectStorage. This will allow games to load much, much faster than before.

Microsoft wants to make gaming on Windows 11 even more attractive and now one of the features that should make this possible is also available: DirectStorage. In a blog post, Microsoft announces that the DirectStorage API announced in September 2020 is now available for Windows game and hardware driver developers.

In principle, Windows 10 is also compatible with DirectStorage, but the full potential can only be exploited under Windows 11, which is why Microsoft recommends PC gamers to use Windows 11.

DirectStorage technology is already in use on Xbox Series consoles, where it speeds up game loading times enormously. In addition, this also enables Quick Resume. This function ensures that games can be saved in the background after a change and can be continued later from the same place. This will also be possible on Windows 11 computers in the near future.

DirectStorage should significantly reduce the loading times of games


DirectStorage should significantly reduce the loading times of games


Microsoft’s DirectStorage will also offer these advantages under Windows in the future

DirectStorage is also said to dramatically increase load times on PCs by – to put it simply – changing the way the GPU interacts with the SSD. As a result, the data transmission rate is massively increased. It’s not entirely clear yet if the PC experience will be the same as the current Xbox Series consoles. However, Nvidia boss Jensen Huang spoke of “immediate” loading and the possibility of continuing where you left off. Nvidia RTX IO, as Huang called it, connects the GPU’s video RAM to an NVMe SSD, allowing the two to talk directly to each other and load the game’s digital content quickly.

Ultimately, this does two things: Long loading times are a thing of the past and GPU texture decompressions are accelerated. The latter should have a positive effect, especially in open-world games, in which new textures are constantly being loaded in the background while you move around in the open world. You can find more information about DirectStorage in this guide: Windows 11 is THE operating system for gamers – all new functions explained

Developers can get to work

With the release of the API, DirectStorage technology is now available to all developers, so not only Nvidia (with Nvidia RTX IO) but also AMD can use it. Specifically, DirectStorage includes three things:

  • a DirectX12-like calling pattern, so the applications themselves don’t have to manage I/O requests

  • GPU decompression of assets

  • a storage stack that leverages DirectStorage capabilities

What you need to benefit from DirectStorage

According to Microsoft, DirectStorage will also support older hardware, even older hard drives. Microsoft will also make DirectStorage available for Windows 10. However, the technology is being optimized for Windows 11, which Microsoft says will “unleash the full potential of DirectStorage”. Fast I/O transfers between a GPU and a storage device will also benefit from fast storage, meaning an NVMe SSD is probably best.

According to Microsoft, the first Windows games that benefit from DirectStorage will be delivered in the near future.

The DirectStorage API initially provides developers with everything they need to transition to the new IO model for their games. In addition, they are also working on more ways to reduce CPU usage. “Next on our roadmap is GPU decompression, a feature that will give developers more control over resources and hardware usage,” Microsoft explains in the blog post. Furthermore, the existing runtime implementation will be further optimized, for which feedback from developers and users will also be taken into account.

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