Image Courtesy: WCCFtech
Microsoft announced eighteen months ago that one of the essential features of its new Xbox Series X console is the ability to stream massive quantities of data from a blazing fast NVMe solid-state drive to your GPU somewhat of depending on your CPU decompress it first, would be coming to PC. In addition, the “DirectStorage API” would allow games to load more complex environments and do it faster than previously.
According to Microsoft, the DirectStorage API is now accessible. In addition, DirectStorage support is now available in Windows games. According to the company’s blog post, “This public SDK release heralds in a new era of speedy load times and rich environments in PC games by enabling developers to more fully use the capabilities of the newest storage devices.” Despite Microsoft’s claim that 11 is “our preferred gaming approach,” it will work with Windows 10, not only Windows 11.
However, before you go out and buy a game to finally put that fast NVMe 4.0 stick drive and compatible motherboard to good use, you should know that the games are now unavailable. Developers have had access to the technology since July, but for those who want to learn more, this is only the beginning. In truth, the official launch may not happen until March 23rd at the Game Developers Conference, when AMD and developer Luminous Productions will talk about how they employed DirectStorage in Forspoken, one of the first demonstration games for the technology. By the way, because Forspoken was only postponed last week, you will not be able to play it until October 11th.
You could also be skeptical that developers would fully use NVMe storage anytime soon, given that many PC players have yet to upgrade to fast NVMe SSDs, and titles like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart for the PS5 were discovered to be underutilizing their potential. (In fact, some game developers will still need to target UHS-I micro SD cards that read at less than 100MB/sec, rather than the 4,000-7,000MB/sec of a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, thanks to the Steam Deck.)
Still, if Windows games can hypothetically pull off the same SSD tricks as the PS5 and Xbox Series X, it means one more minor component of the PC is limiting next-gen gaming’s potential — and we are excited for that mostly unfulfilled promise to be realized. Here is the most recent Forspoken gameplay trailer, which shows the game running on a Sony PS5, as well as a Windows PC and an Xbox Series X utilizing fast SSD techniques.