Microsoft has revealed that its much-anticipated DirectStorage API for PC will support PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives as well as PCIe 4.0 SSDs. The information came out of a presentation to developers at the Game Stack Live 2021 event—a helpful Redditor who attended posted some of the slides from the talk. The actual presentation should be posted soon, according to this DirectX Developer Blog

It was generally accepted that DirectStorage, which streamlines transfers between your SSD and graphics cards, would be limited to the very latest, fastest tech, so this is surprising albeit very welcome news. Note that it won’t work with SATA drives though, as they simply aren’t fast enough for what Microsoft has in mind.

This is good news simply because there’s a much bigger install base of PCIe 3.0 drives—PCIe 4.0 drives were limited to AMD’s Ryzen 3000 and 5000 platforms until Intel released Rocket Lake, at the end of last month. A machine running a PCIe 4.0 drive will be faster at transferring data across, which could equate to faster load times, although we’ll have to wait and see what games developers make of this.

Microsoft DirectStorage Slide

(Image credit: Microsoft/Reddit)

Microsoft DirectStorage is notably different to the concept put forward by Nvidia with its RTX I/O API, in that it copies the compressed data across to system memory before copying to the GPU VRAM. Once in the graphics card VRAM, the GPU can then decompress the data much quicker than the CPU can. Nvidia’s solution works in largely the same way, although bypasses the system memory completely, and copies the data straight from the drive to the graphics card. 



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