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Why it matters: Microsoft has talked plenty about the changes that its DirectStorage Xbox technology will bring to Windows PC users, but it's not just speedy loading times we'll get to enjoy: it will also take the pressure off your CPU, reducing a processor's overhead in games by up to 40% in some cases.
Microsoft senior software engineer Cooper Partin, a developer on the DirectStorage for Windows team, explained in a video how the technology was designed to utilize PC hardware fully, and that's especially true when using Windows 11 alongside an NVMe drive; a setup that could offer a 20% to 40% CPU saving. "This is attributed to the advancements made in the file IO stack on Windows 11 and the improvements on that platform in general," said Partin.
While DirectStorage also supports Windows 10 (19H1+), it won't offer the same sort of performance those running Microsoft's latest OS will see.
Freeing up processor resources will have a number of benefits for gamers. Those extra CPU cycles could be used for background processing, AI workloads, or other game features, such as gigantic open-worlds, which can often cause older processors to groan under the weight of the workload.
Additionally, extra CPU resources should be welcomed by anyone who finds their PC performance is severely impacted when trying to game and stream/capture footage at the same time.
Will DirectStorage be enough to encourage those who shun Windows 11 to upgrade? Probably not, at least initially, given that the only game announced so far to support the tech is Forspoken, which doesn't arrive until October 11. Moreover, we'll need to put Microsoft's claims of much better Windows 11 performance to the test.
Developer Luminous Productions says that DirectStorage will reduce Forspoken's loading times from an average of 10 seconds when using a SATA SSD to just one second with DirectStorage on an NVMe SSD, though that's being disputed. The API was made generally available to devs last week, so it could be a while before more games start supporting it.