Microsoft DirectStorage 1.1, a feature that uses the GPU to speed up loading times, has just been tested with comparisons between AMD, Intel and Nvidia graphics cards – with very interesting results. In short, it looks like this feature will significantly speed up loading with NVMe SSDs.
How Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab) reports, compile (opens in a new tab) developed a comparative test of this german tech site Computer game equipment (opens in a new tab) (PCGH) used to obtain results for AMD’s RX 7900 XT versus Intel’s Arc A770, as well as Nvidia’s RTX 4080.
All GPUs tested on a PC with Intel Core i9-12900K (Alder Lake flagship CPU) running Windows 11.
First, a quick tech reminder to refresh your memory if needed: DirectStorage 1.1 comes with GPU decompression technology, allowing the GPU to decompress (compressed game assets) and do so with much greater speed and efficiency than the CPU.
This provides faster loading times and quicker on-the-fly resource loading in large open world games, meaning a smoother experience when roaming these types of large environments.
In testing, PCGH found that Intel’s A770 GPU was actually the best at achieving fast decompression of game assets, reaching 16.8 GB/s compared to 15.3 GB/s for the RTX 4080 and 14.6 GB/s for the AMD 7900 XT (in the PCIe 4.0 tests – although Intel also led in the case of PCI 3.0, albeit by a slightly narrower margin).
While this was a somewhat eye-opening win for the Intel Arc, it’s important to note that it didn’t translate into any real difference in load times between the GPUs, with all of them delivering blazingly fast speeds.
PCGH witnessed the 5-second load time go down to 0.5 seconds – essentially in the blink of an eye – in all cases for these AMD, Intel and Nvidia graphics cards, so they were all fully in line with the actual end results.
Analysis: Really impressive results – but where are the games?
It’s an exciting first look at independent benchmarks showing just how fast DirectStorage will be for PC gamers, no matter what kind of (modern) GPU they’re using. Note that gamers must have an NVMe SSD as well as Windows 11 for best results.
While DirectStorage will work on Windows 10 PCs, there are a whole bunch of optimizations for Windows 11 on the storage front, which means it will provide a much greater speed boost. So it’s easy to see why, given the impact DirectStorage seems to have on these benchmarks, this will be a compelling argument for PC gamers to upgrade to Windows 11.
Keep in mind that this may not be an argument that will apply in the real world for a while, simply because there aren’t any games yet that use DirectStorage (not on PC, anyway). The only game we know is coming and bristling with DS support is Forspoken, and it’s frustrating that it’s been the victim of multiple delays right now.
Forspoken was expected in May 2022, then pushed back to October 2022, before being pushed back to January 24, 2023, just over a week away. Hopefully – barring further last-minute delays – we’ll be able to see DirectStorage in action on PC very soon.
Still, one PC game is just a drop in the ocean of needs, and it’s unclear when more titles will follow to take advantage of this fast SSD acceleration technology. This means it will still be a while before PC gamers sticking with Windows 10 feel the real pull to upgrade to Windows 11, but judging from the early testing so far, it looks like the pull will be considerable when it comes to play.