Microsoft has released their DirectStorage API to game developers, which will allow games to have much faster load times thanks to optimised NVMe SSD access.
DirectStorage reinvents the way games interract with SSDs. Previously a game could only perform a single in/out access at a time, while this wasn’t an issue with slower mechanical hard drives, with many people now using NVMe SSDs this has a limiting factor. DirectStorage lets an NVMe reach its maximum potential by allowing multiple I/O operations simultaniously and also allows assets to be transferred to the GPU directly which results in better efficiency.
Forspoken loads in only 1 second
Forspoken is an upcoming AAA title from Luminous Productions, and with the use of DirectStorage, the game aims to reduce the load times from an average of 10 seconds down to one second on an NVMe. In comparison, on a standard SATA SSD you would get 10 seconds, and over 30 seconds on a mechanical hard drive.
Directstorage can accelerate different stages of the asset loading workflow, from file loading to decompression and graphics card initialisation and asset uploading. The most important aspect of DirectStorage is that data loads can be executed in parallel, which allows for multiple read requests to be synhronised which allows for much faster loading times.
In a presentation at GDC, Teppei Ono, the Technical Director at Luminous, shows a preview showcasing the load times accross different drives. The scenes were comprised of approximately 20 000 files which came to about 4.5GB. An M.2 SSD was able to load in 1.9 seconds, the SATA SSD in 3.7 seconds and the HDD in 21.5 seconds.