Valve Update Could Maximize Storage Space For Steam Deck

Steam Deck
Steam Deck (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

As reported by Phoronix, (opens in new tab) Valve released a new Steam beta update (opens in new tab) this Friday that improves the efficiency of Steam's shader pre-caching system. Now, when Steam detects pre-cache shader code that is stale or unused, it will automatically flush it out to save on storage space. This feature comes just in time for the Steam Deck, which should take great advantage of this, especially with the 64GB storage capacity of the baseline model. We've also now seen evidence that the Steam Deck has configurable GPU performance settings. 

But, this feature won't just be limited to the Steam Deck; it'll also work on regular gaming PCs running Windows, Linux, and Mac when a GPU driver is changed or updated. Specifically for Linux users, Phoronix also notes that this feature will come in handy for gamers and enthusiasts who frequently ride Git builds of new Mesa graphics drivers, which are usually updated once a week.

Pre-compiling is becoming increasingly popular. Essentially, some pieces of code need to be compiled on the fly as a game or program is running. Pre-compiling that code before an app or game starts running reduces loading time and improves gaming performance, but it can put extra load on storage bandwidth and use up more storage space.

Even in the smartphone world, pre-compiling apps are becoming more popular. For instance, if you own a Samsung device, you can run Samsung's Galaxy App Booster, which pre-compiles all your apps on your phone for up to a 15% reduction in loading times.

Generally, pre-compiled shaders on a system can usually take a couple of gigabytes worth of storage if you play several titles and can get as big as 10GB or more if you play dozens and dozens of titles. So this new Steam client beta update could be very important for systems with small storage drives, like the baseline Steam Deck models.

Boiling Steam (opens in new tab) has also shared a short video of the Steam Deck's customization options regarding the device's performance-enhancing options. The first option has to do with the interface for the Steam Deck, which likely has to do with the client's overlay.

The second option reportedly allows Steam Deck owners to tweak the GPU performance, impacting battery life. There are four settings: auto, manual, low, and high. To further improve battery life, it would seem that Valve has implemented a framerate limiter. There is also an option to customize the AMD Aerith APU's TDP limit where you can prioritize performance or battery life.

Last but not least, the FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) option is also open to the user.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • watzupken
    Steam should have released a base 128GB version instead of 64 in the first place. They should be aware that new games uses a lot of storage for quite a number of years now. Even 128GB can barely hold 1 or 2 games. Those MS/ Xbox games like Forza Horizon and Gears uses a lot of storage.
  • Mandark
    A steam up is when you’re going hot and heavy in a car with your girlfriend I thought
  • Cthorn11
    I feel like it's a bad design decision making the base model 64GB. So many people are going to pick the base model. This isn't a switch where games are designed to run on a different platform, this is a portable pc where games are designed for a pc. I have so many games that are way over 64GB. Last game I played is Red Dead Redemption 2, which is 118GB. This is going to force people to pick and choose what games to put on it. Many games these days, especially next gen, pull assets from the drive. Even though it's got expandable storage, the speeds are limited by microsd instead of the internal speeds. MicroSD is ~write speeds of 90/MBs and read of 180/MBs, which isnt the best. Storage options are 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Almost sounds like the original option was 128GB but they lowered it. Honestly I think people are going to buy the lowest tier model, and then go and spend $150-$200 on a 1TB SD card when they could've just spent money on the top model. I pre-ordered the 64GB and just thought about it, like I'll be able to have 1 or 2 games on the internal, if that. I dunno I'm excited for it, and we'll just have to see how fast games can load off the SD card, but I have a feeling people like me that preordered the base version are going to be disappointed with load speeds and times. I have a feeling it'll be pretty underwhelming, and the higher tiered models are going to load games way faster with their NVMe storage.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    The sad thing is that instead of an essential boycott of the Steam Deck due to its lousy base specs to force them to increase them, people are preordering the heck out of it.
  • Cthorn11
    watzupken said:
    Steam should have released a base 128GB version instead of 64 in the first place. They should be aware that new games uses a lot of storage for quite a number of years now. Even 128GB can barely hold 1 or 2 games. Those MS/ Xbox games like Forza Horizon and Gears uses a lot of storage.
    Didn't see your comment before I posted. Totally agree with you, I almost feel like 128 was the original option. Goes from 64 to 256 to 512, 128 would make the most sense seeing the other options. They make 1TB SD cards, but for the price, I would just pay more for the NVMe storage. We're talking about the difference between ~180MB/s with microsd to ~2000MB/s for the NVMe which will make the biggest difference in load times and games that pull assets from the drive. Most open world games these days pull assets from the drive, and this is going to directly affect games performance. I pre-ordered the 64GB which I feel dumb about now.
  • excalibur1814
    They were never, EVER, going to release this before Xmas. I don't like large companies telling fibs.
  • salgado18
    Steam should support multiple install options like in the past, so the user can choose to download smaller assets, for example. That way, a 100GB game with 4k textures could have an option to install with 2k textures at ~30GB, and maybe even 1k textures at ~10GB install size. It worked well in the 90s, when you could choose a minimum install and leave the assets on the CD, or a full install with everything on the drive. Not only for the Steam Deck, but many people have smaller SSDs, so it would be a very good option.