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Microsoft promises faster PC game load times with the release of DirectStorage

Enlarge / You will need an NVMe SSD to use DirectStorage on Windows.

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PC games can now use DirectStorage, a DirectX 12 Ultimate API that Microsoft announced in 2020. The feature is supposed to bring faster loading times and improved textures and draw distances.

The Xbox Series X/S already uses DirectStorage, and in June Microsoft announced that it would be bringing the feature to Windows 11. The Storage Acceleration API is expected to improve gameplay by bringing instant asset introduction and enabling more vivid virtual landscapes. It works by sending data directly from an NVMe SSD to the graphics card, skipping the CPU and taking advantage of PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 speeds, depending on the system.

At a developer blog post today, Microsoft announced that it is removing DirectStorage from developer preview and making it available through a Public SDKs.

Microsoft initially said Windows 10 would not support DirectStorage, but later backtracked. In today’s article, Microsoft tried to steer PC gamers towards Windows 11, saying the operating system “has the latest storage optimizations” and is the “recommended path for gaming” from the society.

No games support DirectStorage on PC yet, but AMD and game developer Luminous Productions recently demo Speak using the function. The game is expected to be released on October 11. Microsoft’s blog said the company would have more to say about DirectStorage-supporting PC games “in the future.”

We can expect to see more games implementing the feature. Sony has already promoted what a fast NVMe SSD can do for gaming thanks to the PlayStation 5’s fast-loading universe jump Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. However, not all PC gamers have made the switch from SATA to PCIe 3.0 or later NVMe SSDs. Microsoft previously said NVMe was necessary because these SSDs “can have multiple queues, and each queue can hold multiple requests at once, making [them] a good fit for today’s gaming workloads which tend to be parallel and batch.”

DirectStorage also requires an Nvidia RTX 2000 or AMD RX 6000 or later graphics card.