Microsoft DirectStorage 1.1 Now Available, AMD, Intel, Nvidia Ready

DirectStorage 1.1 API released
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Microsoft teased the arrival of its DirectStorage 1.1 API almost a month ago, and it is now available (opens in new tab) for developers to get started with its newly implemented GPU decompression functionality. Remember, Direct Storage 1.1's headlining ability is accelerating game load times by as much as 40%, depending upon the game and PC hardware configuration.

In a blog post heralding the arrival of DirectStorage 1.1, Microsoft wrote mostly to the audience of developers, pointing to guides, resources, and describing what’s new from a technical viewpoint. The key confirmation is that “GPU decompression and GDeflate [are] now available.” But there are a number of performance increases and bug fixes to Direct Storage in general, too.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The utility value of DirectStorage going forward will depend on a variety of things. On the consumer side, PC gamers will need modern hardware to feel any benefits, with at least a DirectX 12 + Shader Model 6.0 GPU, plus a fast, modern storage device like one of the latest NVMe SSDs. 

In the demos showcased last month, Microsoft shared a screenshot where DirectStorage 1.1 was used in a pretty ideal setup, and it loaded a ‘game’ scene up to 3X faster than an earlier API. Moreover, the GPU-powered decompression reduced CPU loads significantly. But, of course, whether your CPU or GPU has more ‘spare time’ will depend a lot on the game engine and your hardware.

Importantly for the adoption of this data loading acceleration API, some optimized drivers are already ready. Microsoft linked to support pages from key PC hardware partners like AMD, Intel, and Nvidia (opens in new tab) in its blog. If you follow the respective links, you can learn more about each vendor’s work to support DirectStorage 1.1.

AMD highlights the important fact that “DirectStorage is a feature that must be enabled by (game) application developers to realize the benefits.” Thus, end users can’t just wait for a new GPU driver. Sadly, AMD hasn’t confirmed whether it has already implemented DirenctStorage 1.1 support in a shipping driver or if it is something we have to look forward to.

Nvidia says that the current Game Ready Driver (version 526.47) includes optimizations for GDeflate. It provided some performance comparison charts showing the clear advantages offered by GPU decompression in game / level loading.

Intel says its Arc graphics driver 101.3793 includes DirectStorage 1.1 optimizations for Intel Xe architecture on systems with NVMe SSDs. It also kindly shared some performance examples.  In its example featuring a system using an Intel Core i9-12900K CPU and Arc A770 16GB GPU, the decompression bandwidth was increased from 7.88 GB/s to 21.67 GB/s.

So, game developers can, at last, begin in earnest implementing DirectStorage 1.1, with the carrot at the end of the stick being significantly shorter loading times and faster game data streaming. We look forward to seeing the improvements to available games coming as patches, as well as new games coming with DirectStorage 1.1 enabled from launch.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • LastStanding
    The elephant in the room is, which devs would even consider patching their dated games.

    Like Ubisoft, their EOL titles would never see DS e.g. AC: Origins water debacle.

    R* iffy support for RDR2.

    MK11 stuttering mess, etc.

    DS1.1 seems just like another Mesh Shader, etc. broken promise that even MS devs refuses to utilize in their titles.
    Reply
  • SonoraTechnical
    I wonder if Microsoft will patch it's own Flight Simulator software to use it. They are generally slow about adopting their own tech (e.g. how many microsoft titles were written for the Modern UI? )
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    LastStanding said:
    The elephant in the room is, which devs would even consider patching their dated games.
    Since the prerequisites for DirectStorage are DX12 and SM6.0, anything that uses DX11 or older, SM5.x or older would likely need a rewrite too exhaustive to be called a "patch."

    DirectStorage is likely a no-go for most currently existing games.
    Reply
  • DavidLejdar
    I wouldn't expect neither that many a game will simply get "patched" to make use of DirectStorage. And it also is a question of engine apparently.

    On the other hand, the re-release of The Witcher 3 is supposedly coming with support for DirectStorage. There has been confirmation that i.e. Unreal Engine 5 will support DirectStorage. In particular modern consoles are hardware-ready for DirectStorage. And the list of DX12 games isn't exactly short:
    https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/List_of_DirectX_12_games
    So I wouldn't be surprised if even a number of older games will get an overhaul - that is when they do well for the publisher. In most older cases, it sure won't likely be considered worth the effort though. And someone playing older games due to hardware limitations, they wouldn't be able to make use of it anyhow when they are still e.g. loading games from a HDD - while upgrading that will load up older games "fast enough".
    Reply
  • kerberos_20
    it will be up to individual games to implement DirectStorage to see the benefits of the API.
    That means not only using the necessary API hooks, but also shipping games with assets packed using the new GDeflate algorithm. The vast backwards compatibility of GDeflate means that game devs can essentially hit the ground running here on DX12 games – anything worth running a new game on is going to support DirectStorage and GDeflate – but the fact that it involves game assets means that full DirectStorage support cannot be trivially added to existing games. Developers would need to redistribute (or otherwise recompress) game assets for GDeflate, which is certainly do-able, but would require gamers to re-download a large part of a game.
    So gamers should plan on seeing DirectStorage 1.1 arrive as a feature in future games, rather than backported into existing games.
    Reply
  • husker
    "Remember, Direct Storage 1.1's headlining ability is accelerating game load times by as much as 40%, depending upon the game and PC hardware configuration. "
    - Article

    Anywhere you see the phrase "as much as" your B.S. radar should be blaring. Any store can sell one single item for 80% off and and claim a big sale where everything is "as much as" 80% off. Give me an average or a minimum to go along with that or it is meaningless.
    Reply
  • kerberos_20
    husker said:
    "Remember, Direct Storage 1.1's headlining ability is accelerating game load times by as much as 40%, depending upon the game and PC hardware configuration. "
    - Article

    Anywhere you see the phrase "as much as" your B.S. radar should be blaring. Any store can sell one single item for 80% off and and claim a big sale where everything is "as much as" 80% off. Give me an average or a minimum to go along with that or it is meaningless.
    it will depend on your drive speed, pcie bandwith speed, maybe reBAR?, and gpu decompression speed
    the usual thing to consider
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    InvalidError said:
    Since the prerequisites for DirectStorage are DX12 and SM6.0, anything that uses DX11 or older, SM5.x or older would likely need a rewrite too exhaustive to be called a "patch."

    DirectStorage is likely a no-go for most currently existing games.
    or any game that is in development right now.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    husker said:
    Anywhere you see the phrase "as much as" your B.S. radar should be blaring. Any store can sell one single item for 80% off and and claim a big sale where everything is "as much as" 80% off. Give me an average or a minimum to go along with that or it is meaningless.
    Microsoft has zero control over how developers implement the feature if they choose to implement it at all, so the improvement can be anywhere from actually regressing to hypothetically as much as tripling based on GDeflate benchmarks.

    Not much different from how CPU designers throwing more cores, cache, etc. at their designs usually yields a far less than linear gains in most people's everyday uses because most everyday uses do not rely exclusively on any one single miraculous performance-tripling aspect of the overall design. I upgraded from an i5-3470 to an i5-11400, my new CPU is more than twice as fast but for most everyday uses, I'm not sure I'd be able to tell the difference apart from games load screens being a few seconds quicker.
    Reply
  • umeng2002_2
    The demo is out to try. I got between 7 and 8.5 GB/s over my PCI-e gen 3 SSD with 1% CPU utilization.

    Without GPU decompression, I was at 5 GB/s with 100% CPU usage.
    Reply