Microsoft is Bringing Xbox’s DirectStorage to Windows 10

Posted on September 2, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10, Xbox Series X with 20 Comments

Microsoft announced that it will bring a key piece of Xbox Series X storage technology to Windows 10 for PCs. It’s called DirectStorage, and it was originally announced as part of a portfolio of technology innovations that Microsoft will include in its next videogame console.

“We’re excited to bring DirectStorage, an API in the DirectX family originally designed for the [Xbox Series X’s] Velocity Architecture to Windows PCs,” Microsoft’s Andrew Yeung writes. “DirectStorage will bring best-in-class IO tech to both PC and console just as DirectX 12 Ultimate does with rendering tech. With a DirectStorage capable PC and a DirectStorage enabled game, you can look forward to vastly reduced load times and virtual worlds that are more expansive and detailed than ever.”

DirectStorage will require an NVMe-based SSD drive because of its high bandwidth needs, and it apparently won’t work with all NVMe drives, either: DirectStorage will be supported only on “certain systems with NVMe drives,” Microsoft notes. If your system doesn’t support DirectStorage, games will simply continue to work normally, as before.

And the technology isn’t just about speed: Microsoft says that DirectStorage will enable games to be more detailed and expansive than before as well.

“By using DirectStorage, games are able to leverage the best current and upcoming decompression technologies,” Yeung explains. “The DirectStorage API is architected in a way that … maximizes performance throughout the entire pipeline from NVMe drive all the way to the GPU. [So] developers are given an extremely efficient way to bring [gamers] larger, more detailed virtual worlds that load in as fast as your game character can move through it.”

Getting DirectStorage into Windows 10 is going to require some time, Yeung adds. Microsoft has already begun prepping its partners for DirectStorage and is working to finish designing and building the API and its supporting components. The firm is hoping to get the first developer preview out next year.

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