Tech

Forspoken demo offers a look at Microsoft DirectStorage in action

What to look forward to: PC games will soon be able to take advantage of DirectStorage for faster loading and more detailed worlds, starting with games like Forspoken. It will take time before developers can tap into the full potential of the new technology, but important steps have already been taken to offload tasks from the CPU and allow NVMe drives to shine brighter than their SATA siblings.

Earlier this month, Microsoft released the long-awaited DirectStorage API for game developers. The Redmond giant says the technology, first implemented for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, will soon bring the same benefits to PCs equipped with a fast SSD.

In particular, DirectStorage will take advantage of the large internal parallelism of today’s storage devices to enable lightning-fast loading, smooth game transitions, larger and more detailed worlds, and even features like Quick Resume. In other words, we should see fewer texture popups, shorter breaks when navigating game worlds, and more realistic graphics in future games.

KRI 2022 is still a work in progress and thanks to Luminous Productions we now have an idea of ​​what to expect from DirectStorage on PC. According to Teppei Ohno, CTO of Luminous Productions, Forspoken will be one of the first games to take advantage of the new technology. It claims that some scenes in the new game will load in as little as one second on systems equipped with NVMe SSDs capable of read speeds in excess of 5,000 megabytes per second.

It should be noted that during the demonstration of the upcoming game, none of the scenes loaded in one second, and the boot time of the M.2 SSD fluctuated in the region of two seconds. Also, there doesn’t seem to be much improvement in boot times using DirectStorage over the traditional Win32 API for SATA SSDs. Hard drives also haven’t seen much improvement yet, but that may change in the future.

It says this is just the first step, and so the improvements seen with Forspoken are actually modest compared to what’s possible with DirectStorage. The reason is that Luminous Productions is only addressing one of the bottlenecks, and there is more work to be done in the future to address non-IO CPU bottlenecks.

Microsoft is also working on improving GPU decompression for resource streaming and this will include a number of storage stack optimizations on Windows 11. The company will also provide some of the benefits of DirectStorage to Windows 10 users, but only through enhancements to the existing Win32 API. This means that gamers who want to take full advantage of DirectStorage will have to upgrade to the latest Microsoft operating system.

It also affected other technologies used in Forspoken, such as variable shading and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution 2.0. The latter is a temporal scaling solution also coming to Nvidia cards and Xbox consoles, so it will be interesting to see how it compares to Nvidia’s DLSS and Intel’s upcoming XeSS.

Forspoken will release on October 11 on PC and PlayStation 5 and is currently available for pre order.


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