Microsoft officially launched the DirectStorage
API in March 2021, allowing the PC’s NVMe SSD to bypass the CPU and memory and transfer data directly to the video memory, which can greatly reduce the game loading time and solve the problem of some material loading errors. In theory, games using this technology can achieve seamless integration of scenes.
However, compared to the console version, the “GPU decompression” function is missing.
As game developers’ attitudes toward DirectStorage 1.0 gradually cooled down, Microsoft announced that the DirectStorage API would usher in an update, introducing the “GPU decompression” feature in DirectStorage 1.1. This allows the player’s GPU to obtain the relevant resources of game materials directly from the storage device, including various data for building the game, including textures, 3D model files, sound effects, and other content. It is then decompressed and placed in video memory, which will directly affect the loading time of the game.
In the past, this process of decompression was done by the CPU, and the new alternative is done by the GPU. This is a computationally heavy workload, and GPUs are more efficient at performing repeatable parallel tasks and are clearly more suitable than CPUs. When the game is running, the decompressed data is placed in the system memory, and then copied to the video memory for use. The new method can reduce the time of data transmission and decompression, thereby improving the speed of game loading.
Microsoft also showed off a highly optimized instance of GPU decompression on DirectStorage 1.1, showing that 3D scene loading times were reduced from 2.36 seconds to 0.8 seconds. Microsoft plans to start shipping DirectStorage 1.1 to game developers in late 2022, with the first apps to appear in 2023.