A New Era of Gaming: How DirectStorage 1.2 is Redefining Gaming PC

Microsoft has recently released DirectStorage 1.2, a groundbreaking update to its API as well as to gaming PC. This new version brings a surprising addition: support for HDDs. Consequently, it has the potential to boost PC game load times on a wider range of gaming desktops. However, for gamers to fully benefit from this technology, developers must first implement support.

1. DirectStorage Background

a) Brief history of DirectStorage

First of all, let’s explore the history of DirectStorage. Developed by Microsoft, it emerged as a solution for faster game load times. Initially, this technology aimed to enhance the performance of gaming PCs, particularly those with NVMe SSDs. In turn, the technology allowed for smoother, more immersive gameplay on gaming desktops.

Subsequently, Microsoft released various updates to improve DirectStorage. These updates addressed issues and expanded compatibility. Now, DirectStorage 1.2 has arrived, and it offers more benefits for gaming PCs with HDDs.

b) Initial launch as a solution for NVMe SSDs

At the outset, DirectStorage targeted gaming PCs with NVMe SSDs. Consequently, it aimed to streamline data transfer between these SSDs and GPUs. By bypassing the CPU, DirectStorage achieved faster load times and improved game performance. In other words, this innovation brought about a new era of high-speed gaming experiences.

However, there was a challenge. Although DirectStorage primarily focused on SSDs, many gaming desktops still relied on traditional HDDs. As a result, developers faced the task of incorporating support for both NVMe devices and HDDs. This process proved complicated and hindered the widespread adoption of the technology.

c) Problems faced by developers with separate methods for SSDs and HDDs

Indeed, the need for separate methods for SSDs and HDDs posed a significant obstacle. For developers, this meant additional work and complexity when integrating DirectStorage support. Moreover, these separate methods hindered the full potential of this groundbreaking technology.

In response to this challenge, Microsoft has made a game-changing move. With DirectStorage 1.2, the company has bridged the gap between SSDs and HDDs. Consequently, this update allows for a more seamless integration of DirectStorage into gaming desktops, regardless of their storage type.

2. New Features in DirectStorage 1.2 for Enhanced Gaming PC Performance

a) Unified code for both SSDs and HDDs

First and foremost, DirectStorage 1.2 introduces a unified code for SSDs and HDDs. Essentially, this means that developers can now use the same code for both storage types. As a result, it simplifies the process of incorporating DirectStorage into gaming PCs, regardless of whether they use SSDs or HDDs.

In addition, this unified code paves the way for more widespread adoption of DirectStorage. Consequently, gamers using both high-end and budget gaming desktops can experience the benefits of faster load times and improved game performance.

b) Introduction of buffered mode for legacy HDDs

Next, DirectStorage 1.2 brings a buffered mode for legacy HDDs. Previously, DirectStorage used an unbuffered mode to transfer data quickly from SSDs to GPUs. However, this mode didn’t work as efficiently with HDDs due to their longer seek times.

To address this issue, Microsoft introduced buffered mode for HDDs. This new mode takes advantage of OS file buffering features to speed up data transfer. In turn, it allows games installed on slower HDDs to benefit from DirectStorage’s capabilities.

c) Improved GPU decompression of textures

Lastly, DirectStorage 1.2 enhances GPU decompression of textures. This improvement builds upon the GPU decompression feature introduced in version 1.1. In essence, it allows gaming desktops to offload the work needed to decompress assets to the graphics card.

By improving GPU decompression, DirectStorage 1.2 speeds up asset loading in games. Consequently, it reduces the strain on the CPU and enhances overall gaming performance. With these new features, Microsoft’s DirectStorage 1.2 promises a better gaming experience for all types of gaming PCs.

3. Impact of DirectStorage 1.2 on Gaming PC

a) Adoption of DirectStorage in games

As of now, the adoption of DirectStorage in games remains limited. However, the example of Forspoken demonstrates the potential benefits of this technology. By integrating DirectStorage support, Forspoken achieved improved load times by around 30 percent or more. This impressive result highlights the potential of DirectStorage to revolutionize the gaming experience on gaming PCs.

With the release of DirectStorage 1.2, it is anticipated that more game developers will adopt the technology. By doing so, they can offer gamers a smoother, faster gaming experience on both SSDs and HDDs.

Real-world performance comparison of DirectStorage technology on gaming PC's M.2 SSD vs SATA SSD.
DirectStorage’s Theoretical Performance Improvements Don’t Match Real-World Results. Image credit: arstechnica

b) Support from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel

Moreover, DirectStorage 1.2 has garnered support from industry giants such as Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. These companies are ready to support the latest GPU decompression techniques introduced by DirectStorage. This collaboration signifies a strong backing for the technology and a promising future for gaming desktops.

As more hardware manufacturers embrace DirectStorage 1.2, it becomes increasingly likely that game developers will follow suit. Ultimately, this collaboration could lead to a new era of gaming experiences on PCs.

c) The potential for increased adoption due to benefits for older HDDs

Finally, DirectStorage 1.2 offers clear benefits for gaming PCs with older HDDs. By bridging the gap between SSDs and HDDs, this update enables a more inclusive approach to gaming performance. In other words, gamers using a variety of gaming desktops can now reap the benefits of faster load times and improved performance.

In the video “DirectStorage – M.2 SSD vs SATA SSD | Forspoken” you can see the difference in load times between a game running on an M.2 SSD and the same game running on a SATA SSD.


In conclusion, Microsoft’s DirectStorage 1.2 offers an array of improvements aimed at enhancing the gaming experience on both SSDs and HDDs. By introducing a unified code, buffered mode, and improved GPU decompression, this update promises to bring faster load times and better performance to gaming PCs. Nevertheless, the success of DirectStorage 1.2 ultimately depends on widespread adoption by game developers. As more developers incorporate this technology into their games, gamers can look forward to enjoying a new era of seamless and immersive gameplay across various gaming desktops.

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