even the slowest hard drives experience better performance, here’s why

The performance boost provided by DirectStorage is no longer restricted to NVMe SSDs. Microsoft has just released a new version of its API, which now takes classic hard drives into consideration.

Available on Xbox Series X and Series S, but also on Windows 10 and Windows 11, the technology DirectStorage boosts game performance. It notably exploits the power of GPUs and the performance of NVMe SSDs. In addition, thanks to a data decompression system performed by the GPU rather than by the CPU, Windows 11 benefits from better loading times for video games.

A new edition of the DirectStorage API has just been released: if version 1.2 fixes a few bugs, it mainly benefits from a major novelty. Thus, Microsoft developers took into consideration I/O buffering on hard disks.

Microsoft explains that its new technique, dedicated to small transfers, “improves the overall use of physical memory, because the memory manager does not need to lock a complete physical page for each transfer, as for the drivers which request direct I/O. Typically, dedicated video, keyboard, or mouse drivers require buffered I/O”. As a result, reduced loading times and a greater level of detail are no longer dedicated SSD enhancements.

Windows 11: DirectStorage performance is no longer reserved for SSDs

According to Microsoft on Windows 10 and Windows 11, “DirectStorage currently opens files in unbuffered mode. This avoids unnecessary copies, routing data to the GPU as quickly as possible. However, some developers have said they wish they could use the same code on both high-speed SSDs and regular HDDs. Conventional hard drives require buffered I/O to mask long seek times. For this reason, we added the ability to configure DirectStorage to open buffered files.”

Although it is still preferable to use an NVMe SSD to obtain maximum performance under Windows and in its games, the new version of DirectStorage takes advantage of traditional mechanical hard drives. This is good news if you don’t want to invest in an SSD, which is necessarily more expensive than a classic hard drive with equivalent storage capacities.

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