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Windows 11 DirectStorage feature is officially coming to Windows 10 as well
By Chad Norton on July 19th, 2021 at 04:12pm - original article from game-debate

Well that’s another item we can add to the bucket of confusing questions Microsoft has given us ever since they officially revealed the next generation of Windows. Lots of details have come out about the new operating system since then, but as it turns out now one of Windows 11’s most exciting features is actually coming to Windows 10 after all.

Last month, it was revealed that one of the best features for gamers coming to Windows 11 would be exclusive to the new OS, that of course being DirectStorage. But a new DirectX Developer blog post has now confirmed the feature will actually be coming to Windows 10 users as well.

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Microsoft is committed to ensuring that when game developers adopt a new API, they can reach as many gamers as possible,” says Hassan Uraizee, Program Manager. “As such, games built against the DirectStorage SDK will be compatible with Windows 10, version 1909 and up; the same as the DirectX 12 Agility SDK.

DirectStorage is basically a new way of handling data being processed, and is most commonly associated with big open world games that include lots of high quality textures and assets with quite long draw distances.

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The aim of DirectStorage then is to circumvent the CPU and directly load assets onto the graphics card, which not only will utilize the power of NVMe SSDs to make texture streaming and load times much faster, but will also hopefully give a slight performance boost by reducing the demand on the CPU.

Uraizee then breaks down the DirectStorage features into these components:

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  • The new DirectStorage API programming model that provides a DX12-style batched submission/completion calling pattern, relieving apps from the need to individually manage thousands of IO requests/completion notifications per second 
  • GPU decompression providing 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 the more efficient use of the legacy OS storage stack  

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DirectStorage has been utilized in the latest Xbox Series X/S game consoles, and has largely been praised on that platform. The feature coming to PC has always been on the cards, but it was always a little strange for the feature to be limited to Win 11 users only, so thankfully more users will be able to use the new tech.

This also means developers and publishers should have more incentive to consider taking advantage of DirectStorage in their games, as a wider audience means more reasons to consider it.

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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 up. Additionally, because Windows 11 was built with DirectStorage in mind, games running on Windows 11 benefit further from new storage stack optimizations.

But what if you don’t have an NVMe SSD and are still rocking an old HDD? Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play DirectStorage games, as “DirectStorage enabled games will still run as well as they always have even on PCs that have older storage hardware (e.g. HDDs).

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What do you think? Are you excited for DirectStorage? Was it the only reason you’d upgrade to Windows 11? Or will you still upgrade anyway? Let us know!