Nvidia's RTX IO technology promises faster load times for RTX-equipped systems

Polycount

Posts: 2,519   +549
Staff member
Something to look forward to: Next-gen consoles are promising quite a few exciting new features, such as heavily reduced load times and reduced mesh or texture pop-in. Fortunately, PC gamers will be able to get their hands on that functionality as well -- as long as they own an Nvidia RTX GPU. The company today revealed "RTX IO," a suite of technologies that enable "rapid GPU-based loading and game asset decompression."

This technology will run on Microsoft's next-generation DirectStorage API, and it will enable "up to" 100x faster drive performance compared to traditional hard drives. Nvidia claims RTX IO can offload much of the work your CPU would ordinarily be doing onto the GPU, which boosts frame rates, speeds up load times, and paves the way for the next generation of open-world games.

"Object pop-in and stutter can be reduced, and high-quality textures can be streamed at incredible rates, so even if you’re speeding through a world, everything runs and looks great," Nvidia explains in their announcement post. "In addition, with lossless compression, game download and install sizes can be reduced, allowing gamers to store more games on their SSD while also improving their performance."

That last bit is particularly notable. It's no secret that high-end NVMe SSDs tend to have limited storage capacities, so if Nvidia is truly able to cut down on game install sizes, it could be a tremendous boon for PC gamers.

The ever-growing install size of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (which sits at 224GB as of writing) is a perfect example of why this sort of technology is will not just be useful, but potentially essential in the long run.

RTX IO will become available as soon as developers begin releasing RTX IO-enhanced games. However, since developer previews of DirectStorage won't be rolling out until next year, we don't expect to see any of the perks mentioned above until at least Q2 2021, if not the second half of the year.

RTX IO will function on both Turing and Ampere GPUs, so RTX 20-series owners won't be left in the dust here. We'll be keeping our eyes on RTX IO in the coming months, and we hope it lives up to the hype in the long run.

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Evernessince

Posts: 5,343   +5,840
Sounds pretty cool. Will be interested in seeing testing of this tech when a game releases with it.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 1,985   +1,273
So Sony went with their custom solution and Direct Storage API will be used by Xbox and PC's. I would love to see a comparison between all 3 systems with a cross platform game some time next year.
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,950   +1,730
TechSpot Elite
So Sony went with their custom solution and Direct Storage API will be used by Xbox and PC's. I would love to see a comparison between all 3 systems with a cross platform game some time next year.
Yup. I want to see tests on the next-gen consoles (and tech). Because they both have their advantages on paper, but I doubt they'll fully live up to it.
The main one is as you mentioned, if the claimed storage speeds actually hit their max and if that's enough for it to matter in a game (or if other factors even things out)...
 

EEatGDL

Posts: 753   +468
A briefly mentioned feature, but boy was I excited. I thought this would be supported until PCIe 5; definitely didn't expect it this soon.
 

daimag

Posts: 10   +0
If this API could free a lot of CPU resources, is there anything else that could bottleneck CPU during gaming?
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,306   +1,384
Staff member
If this API could free a lot of CPU resources, is there anything else that could bottleneck CPU during gaming?
Plenty but that's not really what the API is for -- it's aimed at greatly reducing load times and allows for a greater level of asset complexity. Take any modern 3D game and you'll see that the environment is packed full of endless little things. Pulling all of these off the main storage, running it through system memory, and then transferring it to the VRAM isn't really what current PC input/output systems are best at.

The API will allow game engines to directly access the resources required, without the need for them to go into system memory first. For assets that won't ever change (e.g. textures), not only will this save on I/O loads but it will also help to reduce the system memory load.

The CPU overhead in doing this now exists because Direct3D currently manages everything in a serial manner: DirectStorage packs these requests into parallel batches instead. Open world games, that constantly stream data, will benefit from this, but they're not really I/O limited at the moment anyway.
 

HardReset

Posts: 806   +357
To be honest, this is mostly useless. Current games on PC are either poor console ports (and current generation consoles have 5400 RPM HDD) or optimized for low end systems "because most gamers still don't have SSD so why bother".

Just changing attitude towards "gaming machine has NVMe SSD" is more than enough to cut loading times so low that nobody cares about new API's like this.

Plenty but that's not really what the API is for -- it's aimed at greatly reducing load times and allows for a greater level of asset complexity. Take any modern 3D game and you'll see that the environment is packed full of endless little things. Pulling all of these off the main storage, running it through system memory, and then transferring it to the VRAM isn't really what current PC input/output systems are best at.

The API will allow game engines to directly access the resources required, without the need for them to go into system memory first. For assets that won't ever change (e.g. textures), not only will this save on I/O loads but it will also help to reduce the system memory load.

The CPU overhead in doing this now exists because Direct3D currently manages everything in a serial manner: DirectStorage packs these requests into parallel batches instead. Open world games, that constantly stream data, will benefit from this, but they're not really I/O limited at the moment anyway.
I partially agree those points.

Current PC I/O could be better but again, it's more than good enough if NVMe is considered minimum requirement.

System memory bandwidth or I/O loads are very rarely limiting factor on games, so this doesn't really help much there.

Like you said, this should help most with games that constantly load data but NVMe without any tweaks is still more than enough. SATA SSD probably isn't though.