Microsoft has finally released the much-anticipated DirectStorage 1.1 with GPU decompression, which will help to reduce game load times and make them faster on Windows 10 and 11. According to the details, Microsoft’s DirectStorage 1.1 will allow developers to shift the work load of decompression of games from the CPU to the GPU together with use an NVMe SSD.
Microsoft has provided a detailed description of what exactly DirectStorage 1.1 and GPU decompression offers on their blog post. “Games require massive amounts of data to build immersive worlds – every character, object, and landscape […] adds up to hundreds of gigabytes of data. To reduce the overall package size of a game, these assets are compressed. When a game is run, the assets are transferred to system memory, where the CPU decompresses the data before it is finally copied into GPU memory to be used as needed. The transfer and decompression of these assets on gaming devices contributes heavily to load times and limits how much detail can be included in open world scenes.
“DirectStorage 1.0 improves the data transfer part of this process. Advances in Windows 11 combined with DirectStorage allow developers to make use of the higher bandwidth of NVMe drives. DirectStorage enabled games installed on NVMe drives should expect to see reductions in load times by up to 40%. After enhancing this part of the pipeline, developers will want to improve decompression performance next.
“Typically, decompression work is done on the CPU because compression formats have historically been optimized for CPUs only. We are offering an alternative method in DirectStorage 1.1 by moving the decompression of those assets to the GPU instead – known as “GPU decompression.” the company explained.
“Graphics cards are extremely efficient at performing repeatable tasks in parallel, and we can utilize that capability along with the bandwidth of a high-speed NVMe drive to do more work at once. As a result, the amount of time it takes for an asset to load decreases, reducing level load times and improving open world streaming.” it added.
Microsoft provided a comparison between DirectStorage running with GPU decompression vs CPU decompression provided nearly 3x faster load times and CPU is entirely freed up for other game processes.
However, DirectStorage 1.1 needs a lot of work to be at the developer’s end as it doesn’t have a lot of support yet. However, the basic requirements include a Windows 10 or 11 OS with NVMe SSD and a DirectX 12 capable GPU that supports Shader Model 6.0 in order to take advantage of the feature.