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[Discussion] Microsoft's DirectStorage 1.2: Breathing New Life into Slower Hard Drives

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Do you hear that? It's the sound of old hard drives getting a much-needed speed boost. Microsoft has rolled out version 1.2 of its DirectStorage SDK, surprising developers and gamers alike with improved support for legacy hard drives.

Originally, DirectStorage aimed to enhance data streaming from high-speed NVMe SSDs to GPUs, bypassing CPU bottlenecks. However, Microsoft listened to developers who expressed a desire for better support for older hard drives that still have a place in many PC gamers' rigs.

DirectStorage 1.2 now allows developers to use the same code for both SSDs and HDDs. It supports a buffered mode for legacy HDDs, masking long seek times and enabling games installed on slower drives to take advantage of OS file buffering features and speed enhancements.

In addition to catering to HDDs, Microsoft has also improved GPU decompression of textures in DirectStorage 1.2. This enhancement, initially introduced in version 1.1, lightens the load on CPUs by offloading asset decompression work to graphics cards.

While these updates to DirectStorage are undoubtedly exciting, widespread game adoption is still in its early stages. Forspoken is currently the only game with DirectStorage support, boasting load time improvements of around 30 percent or more. With Nvidia, AMD, and Intel geared up to support the latest GPU decompression techniques, it's only a matter of time before more game developers jump on the DirectStorage bandwagon to breathe new life into slower hard drives.

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One thing is for the developers to make a recommendation or suggestion and the next thing is for Microsoft to listen and adopt it. It's a good thing they had to listen to this one about having a DirectStorage with better support for older hard drives.ย 

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