DirectStorage 1.2 Adds Buffered IO Mode to Speed HDD Performance

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Microsoft’s DirectX developers have released DirectStorage 1.2 (opens in new tab). The headlining introduction with this version is the option to enable buffered IO mode, to speed transfers from slower storage media such as HDDs. Another tweak allows devs to check the decompression processing path currently in use. Last but not least, there is an intelligent switch to improve GPU decompression performance, and a handful of bug fixes.

To provide some background to DirectStorage, it is Microsoft’s DirectX API designed to bring speed, bandwidth, and latency optimizations to the Windows storage subsystem. It brings Xbox technology where game assets stream directly from storage to GPU. On Microsoft’s Xbox, the technology was dubbed the Xbox Velocity Architecture and relied on the new fast NVMe storage of the Xbox Series X / S consoles. Initially, fast SSDs were a requirement of the PC’s DirectStorage implementation, but with v1.2 Microsoft has made accommodations for gamers still hanging onto spinning rust.

Microsoft has added HDD compatibility with buffered IO (Image credit: Microsoft)

New in DirectStorage 1.2 is the ability to use the same code-path on both thrillingly fast SSDs and ye olde HDDs. Microsoft says before DirectStorage 1.2 files would be opened in unbuffered mode, getting data from storage to GPU as immediately as possible. However, it has now made it possible to run DirectStorage in buffered mode “to mask the long seek times” of HDD technology.

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