Microsoft had promised that the DirectStorage API, first debuted with the Xbox Series S | The X consoles were to be launched in a preview of developers for PC this summer. This promise was upheld last Friday when the first preview set was delivered to the game developers who had subscribed to the preview program for NDA developers.
Interestingly, though, Microsoft went back on its earlier decision to make DirectStorage only available on Windows 11. Host Hassan Uraizee explained:
Microsoft is committed to ensuring that when game developers use a new API, they can reach as many players as possible. As such, games built against the DirectStorage SDK will be compatible with Windows 10, version 1909 and later; the same as DirectX 12 Agility SDK.
DirectStorage features can be divided into:
- The new DirectStorage API programming model, which provides a DX12-style submission / completion call pattern, relieves apps of the need to manage thousands of IO requests / completion alerts every second.
- GPU decompression that provides super-fast decompression of assets for load time and streaming scenarios (coming in a later preview)
- Storage Stack Optimizations: On Windows 11, this consists of an upgraded OS storage stack that unlocks the full potential of DirectStorage, and on Windows 10, games will continue to benefit from the more efficient use of the older OS storage stack
This means that any game built on DirectStorage will benefit from the new programming model and GPU decompression technology on Windows 10, version 1909 and later. In addition, because Windows 11 was built with DirectStorage in mind, games running on Windows 11 benefit further from new storage stack optimizations. API runtime implementation and GPU decompression technology are provided via the DirectStorage SDK and come with your game. As a game developer, you only need to implement DirectStorage once in your engine, and all applicable benefits are automatically applied and scaled correctly for players.
It may take a while for some games to take advantage of the IO API, but Metro developer 4A Games reckons it will be very beneficial for PC games as a whole.