Microsoft has announced an update to its DirectStorage API with version 1.1. With this new update, the company is finally introducing GPU decompression.
While decompression has traditionally been done on CPUs due to the nature of their optimizations, the benefits of moving it over to the graphics cores are immense. Using a new developer tool dubbed 'GDeflate', Microsoft is showing up to 200% or 3x performance improvement in asset time loading from 2.36 seconds down to just 0.8 seconds. Additionally, the CPU usage has also been reduced tremendously from 100% down to around 15% as the CPU cycles no longer have to deal with decompression work.
Microsoft also adds that there are "additional optimizations in the IO stack" for Windows 11 which will help it more even though DirectStorage should work on both Windows 11 and Windows 10.
The two major GPU players, AMD and Nvidia will be releasing drivers soon with DirectStorage. Meanwhile, new entrant Intel is also promising DirectStorage drivers. The Arc graphics cards should especially benefit from the new API as the current Intel Arc driver seems to be suffering from CPU overhead issues which is why Arc A-series cards get a big bump in performance when it moves to higher resolutions.
While all this is wonderful news, sadly, the technology, even in its 1.0 version, is yet to debut. This is because the first title to feature DirectStorage, Forspoken, keeps getting delayed. The latest news says it's coming very early next year. It has also been confirmed that Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) is also getting DirectStorage API sometime in the future.