Microsoft's DirectStorage will speed up game loads on Windows 10 and 11

The API is available to game developers right now.

Western Digital

"Windows games can ship with DirectStorage" starting today, Microsoft has announced. DirectStorage is the tech giant's fast game-loading technology that was introduced with the Xbox Series X and S consoles. In September 2020, Microsoft revealed that it will also make the DirectStorage API available on Windows, allowing games for PCs to take advantage of the technology.

DirectStorage leverages the speed of modern NVMe SSDs, which can deliver multiple gigabytes per second, to load games faster than before. As Microsoft explains, current storage APIs weren't optimized for modern games' data loading methods and create bottlenecks that lengthen loading times even for those who have an NVMe SSD. In addition, most gaming assets need to be decompressed before they're sent to the GPU for rendering. DirectStorage solves those issues by processing multiple I/O requests needed to load assets into batches and by using the best current (and future) decompression technologies.

Microsoft released a developer preview of the technology in mid-2021, but as The Verge reports, there are no available games with DirectStorage support yet. One of the first titles to take advantage of the technology is Square Enix's Forspoken, which will be released for Windows and the PS5 in October. Other developers may have only just started working on incorporating the technology into their games. It may take a while for more titles to come with DirectStorage, especially since not everyone has upgraded to NVMe SSDs yet. It's worth noting, though, that while Windows 11 unlocks the technology's full potential, even gamers on Windows 10 will still see some improvements while playing games that support it.

The tech giant will present an introduction to DirectStorage at GDC on March 22nd and is expected to give tips and tricks developers can use to get started. Forspoken developer Luminous will also be talking about how it integrated the technology into the game at the same event.