DirectStorage is no longer a Windows 11 exclusive. The Game Enhancement API will also be available on Windows 10. But the DirectX team warns that the experience will be less

Following the presentation of Windows 11 in June, Microsoft has increased the announcements through many departments of the company. One of these came from its games division which indicated that you would need Windows 11 to play games that use certain “next-generation” APIs, particularly the new DirectStorage API (the storage technology behind the Xbox Velocity architecture). On Friday, the company’s DirectX team lifted this operating system restriction.

Introducing the DirectStorage API

DirectStorage is an API that will improve two main aspects: it will reduce frustrating load times of the past and allow games to be more detailed and extensive than ever before. DirectStorage will be supported on systems with NVMe drives and will help take your gaming experience to a very high level. On non-NVMe compatible systems, games will continue to perform as well as usual.

Microsoft is increasingly looking for ways to improve the performance of games on Windows 10. To do this, the company is implementing part of the Velocity architecture used by the Xbox Series X by bringing the DirectStorage API to Windows 10 to help overcome bandwidth bottlenecks in NVMe storage systems. Indeed, NVMe technologies currently allow gaming PCs to have a storage solution offering much greater bandwidth than was possible with older technologies.

Instead of tens of megabytes per second, drives like the custom NVMe in the upcoming Xbox Series X console are capable of delivering blistering speeds of several gigabytes per second. The firm explained that gaming workloads have also evolved. Modern games load a lot more data than old ones and are smarter about how they load that data. Instead of loading large chunks at a time with fewer I / O demands, current games break things down into smaller chunks.

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In addition, they only load the pieces needed to render the current scene. This approach is much more memory efficient and results in better looking scenes, although it generates a lot more I / O requests. Unfortunately, Microsoft believes that current storage APIs have not been optimized for this high number of I / O requests, preventing them from scaling to these higher NVMe bandwidths, creating bottlenecks. which limit the possibilities of the games.

Even with super-fast PC hardware and an NVMe drive, games that rely on existing APIs won’t be able to completely saturate the I / O pipeline, leaving precious bandwidth on the table. So a new approach is needed to get the most out of NVMe storage systems. According to the company, this is where the DirectStorage PC API comes in. This API is the answer to the changing storage and I / O landscape in PC gaming.

Windows 10 users will also benefit from this API, although with less experience than Windows 11.

Anyone who chooses to upgrade to Windows 11 will have a better DirectStorage experience. An older storage stack implementation will be used in Windows 10, which means Windows 11 users will get a better gaming experience.

In a blog post on DirectStorage, the company explains *: “At the end of last year, we announced that we would be bringing DirectStorage to Windows PCs, and in June, we told the world how DirectStorage would improve the experience. gameplay on Windows 11. Since then, the DirectX team has worked hard to bring this state – a cutting edge technology from Xbox’s Velocity architecture to Windows, allowing game developers on both platforms to create new gaming experiences. immersive game with significantly reduced loading time ”.

And state that “Microsoft is committed to ensuring that when game developers adopt a new API, they can reach as many players as possible.” As such, games built with the DirectStorage SDK will be compatible with Windows 10, version 1909 and later; the same as the DirectX 12 Agility SDK ”.

Microsoft then explains that the functionality of DirectStorage can be divided into several parts, including *:
The new DirectStorage API programming model which provides a DX12-style batch submission / completion call model, relieving applications of the need to individually handle thousands of I / O / requests / completion per second
GPU decompression providing ultra-fast decompression of assets for load time and streaming scenarios (coming in a later preview)
Storage Stack Optimizations *: On Windows 11, this is an upgraded operating system storage stack that unlocks the full potential of DirectStorage, and on Windows 10, games will still benefit from the more efficient use of the legacy operating system storage stack.

“This means any game built on DirectStorage will benefit from the new programming model and GPU decompression technology on Windows 10, version 1909 and later. Additionally, since Windows 11 was designed with DirectStorage in mind, games running Windows 11 benefit more from new storage stack optimizations. The implementation of API execution and GPU decompression technology are provided through the DirectStorage SDK and shipped with your game. As a game developer, you only need to implement DirectStorage once. times in your engine, and all applicable perks will be automatically applied and scaled appropriately for players.

“In fact, this great compatibility extends to a variety of different hardware configurations as well. DirectStorage compatible games will still perform as well as they always did, even on PCs with older storage hardware (eg hard drives) ”.

This statement accompanies Microsoft’s launch of a DirectStorage preview program that will allow developers to immediately begin testing this functionality in intensive 3D software. The API, among other things, redirects I / O calls for 3D graphics resources directly to a computer’s GPU.

It remains to be seen how much of a noticeable difference in performance there will be between games on Windows 10 and those on Windows 11.