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With GPU decompression, Microsoft’s DirectStorage 1.1 improves PC game load times

With updated drivers, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel are supporting Microsoft’s DirectStorage initiatives. We just need the games to show up now.
The most significant new feature in this week’s DirectStorage 1.1 release from Microsoft is GPU decompression for Windows PC games. The next logical step in an industry-wide initiative to decrease game load times on contemporary PCs is GPU decompression. Microsoft first introduced DirectStorage earlier this year, but GPU decompression functionality has been requested by developers and is now available in DirectStorage 1.1 this week.

GPU decompression works by shifting the burden of decompressing game assets from the CPU to the graphics card. At the moment, when game assets are packaged for distribution, they are normally compressed and then decompressed after a game is played.

The issue is that the majority of compression methods were created for CPUs, making them unsuitable for newer games that demand quicker decompression rates using the newest PC hardware.

According to Cassie Hoef, a senior product manager at Microsoft, “typically, decompression work is done on the CPU because compression formats have historically been optimized for CPUs only.” “In DirectStorage 1.1, we provide an alternative approach by shifting the decompression of those assets to the GPU instead, known as GPU decompression.”


In recent years, the market has shifted to PCIe Gen3 or Gen4 NVMe storage devices, which provide 7GB/s of data bandwidth. These improvements in I/O technology can significantly speed up load times in games using DirectStorage 1.1, which is wonderful news for game creators that wish to reduce load times.

Developers will now need to make adjustments to their games in order to use DirectStorage 1.1, and the modifications may potentially cause significant changes in games where you can teleport from one area of a map or globe to another. As much as three times faster, according to Microsoft, freeing up the CPU to tackle other game processes

The current Game Ready Driver (version 526.47), which makes use of DirectStorage 1.1, incorporates Nvidia’s proprietary RTX IO. To complete its drivers, AMD is collaborating with its software suppliers, and Intel’s most recent Arc graphics driver (101.3793) features its own DirectStorage 1.1 enhancements.

The only thing left is game support. While Xbox Series X consoles are delivering on the lightning-fast load times that DirectStorage has always promised, few PC games have yet to use this technology. Perhaps GPU decompression will encourage game makers to use DirectStorage to its fullest potential. The first significant game with DirectStorage support was scheduled to be Forspoken, however the release date was pushed back to January 2023.

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