DirectStorage Developer Preview now available on PC, also supports Windows 10

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Microsoft had promised that the DirectStorage API, which first debuted with the Xbox Series S|X consoles, would launch in a developer preview for PC this summer. that promise was serviced last friday when the first preview kit was delivered to those game developers who had subscribed to the NDA developer preview program.

Interestingly, though, Microsoft reneged on its earlier decision to make DirectStorage only available on Windows 11. Program manager Hassan Uraizee explained:

Microsoft is committed to making sure that when game developers use a new API, they can reach as many gamers as possible. As such, games built against the DirectStorage SDK will be compatible with Windows 10, version 1909 and above; same as the DirectX 12 Agility SDK.

DirectStorage functions can be divided into:

  • The new DirectStorage API programming model that provides a DX12-like clustered submission/completion call pattern, eliminating the need for apps to manage thousands of IO requests/completion notifications per second
  • GPU decompression for super-fast asset decompression 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 still benefit from using the legacy OS storage stack more efficiently

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 above. Additionally, because Windows 11 is built with DirectStorage in mind, games running on Windows 11 further benefit from new storage stack optimizations. The API runtime implementation and the GPU decompression technology are provided through the DirectStorage SDK and shipped with your game. As a game developer, you only need to deploy DirectStorage into your engine once and all applicable benefits are automatically applied and scaled appropriately for gamers.

It may take some time for games to take advantage of the IO API, but Metro developer 4A Games thinks this will be very beneficial for PC gaming as a whole.

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