Is DirectStorage Worth it & Who does it best?

Microsoft’s DirectStorage 1.1 Application programming interface is available for Windows computers with the latest graphics cards and advanced NVMe solid-state storage drives. This enables those interested to test which brand – intel, AMD or Nvidia – has the best performance when it comes to GPU (graphics processing unit) decompression.

(Image Credit: Microsoft)

The normal way information is sent to the graphics card in a computer is as follows: the graphics card asks the processor to find information, the CPU then retrieves the info, decompress it and then sends it to the GPU. With Direct Storage, this can be done much more efficiently. The idea is to let the GPU ask for the information directly from the NVMe SSD without interrupting the CPU and letting the GPU decompress the information itself. This also helps the CPU by reducing the load on it.

This is beneficial because GPU’s are inherently better than CPU’s at decompressing information – at least 2.4 times better than Intel’s high-end i9 processor.

So how do Intel, AMD and Nvidia cards stack up against each other?

In a recent benchmark, an AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 and Intel Arc A770 were pitted against each other. This revealed some interesting results. At PCIe 4.0 Speeds, the cards previously mentioned preformed at 14.6GB/s, 15.3GB/s and 16.8GB/s for their respective data transfer speeds from the NVMe SSD. This is leaps and bounds ahead of the Intel i9-12900K @ 5.2GHz only managing 5.2GB/s. Its clear that GPU decompression is far superior to CPU decompression.

For gamers, this means load times being reduced from 5 seconds to 0.5 seconds, that’s 10 times faster! This is relevant for all the tested GPU’s, this is because these cards being tested didn’t differ too much in terms of performance. So, no matter which GPU you choose, you will get a big increase in load times by using Direct Storage.

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