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Microsoft updates DirectStorage to version 1.2 with support for older HDDs

Microsoft has released Version 1.2 of the DirectStorage SDK, where in addition to performance improvements there's now support for older HDDs.

Microsoft updates DirectStorage to version 1.2 with support for older HDDs
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Microsoft has released DirectStorage 1.2 as part of the DirectStorage SDK, bringing several new features to the technology designed to improve game load times. Namely, support for older hard drives in the form of a new ability to open files in buffered mode that will benefit from "OS file buffering features."

DirectStorage adds support for "legacy hard drives," does this mean old-timey platter HDDs?

DirectStorage adds support for "legacy hard drives," does this mean old-timey platter HDDs?

What's DirectStorage? Well, it's a Microsoft technology designed to help games load faster with the aid of NVMe storage and PCIe Gen 4 speeds. With the visual fidelity of games increasing and things like textures, character models, and other files getting larger, handling all of that data can be a challenge.

DirectStorage bypasses the need for game files and decompression to go from an SDD to RAM to the CPU and GPU. It shifts the load to the GPU so files and data can be quickly decompressed and accessed. It's similar to Microsoft's Xbox Velocity Architecture that debuted with the Xbox Series X|S, which led to games loading in seconds versus upwards of a minute or longer.

What does this mean for legacy hard drives and slower storage? How DirectStorage works can also benefit older drives, but they require buffered IO to reduce load times. And so, Microsoft is adding the "ForceFileBuffering" feature, though it notes "this feature should only be enabled for slower HDD drives that will benefit from the OS file buffering features."

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs were designed for tech like DirectStorage.

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs were designed for tech like DirectStorage.

DirectStorage 1.2 isn't just about adding support to older HDDs, as there are performance improvements, bug fixes, and new tools for developers to monitor how DirectStorage is performing in games. You can read the full Changelog here.

In the world of PC games, DirectStorage is still relatively new, with the first game to use the technology being Square Enix's Forspoken - which was released earlier this year.

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Kosta might be a relatively new member of TweakTown, but he’s a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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