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New Decompression Feature From Microsoft Promises Lightning-Fast Load Times

With DirectStorage 1.1, GPUs can now decompress assets instead of the CPU.


Microsoft released DirectStorage 1.1 this week and its biggest feature is GPU decompression for Windows. The new feature promises to improve load times on PC.

Here's how it works. When you download a game, all the assets have been compressed for ready them for distribution. When you launch the game, the assets get decompressed for presentation during play. This can take time, as the decompression goes from storage to the central processing unit to the graphics card. As Cassie Hoef, a senior programmer at Microsoft, explained, "Typically, decompression work is done on the CPU because compression formats have historically been optimized for CPUs only."

The new update lets developers shift that work to the GPU, which are more efficient at "performing repeatable tasks in parallel." In effect, this will speed up load times if developers implement changes via "metacommands."

According to The Verge, Nvidia has already implemented this feature into their latest driver (526.47), AMD is currently working on compatible drivers, and Intel's most recent Arc graphics driver (101.3793) includes optimizations for the tech. It's also worth noting that the game will have will to be installed on an SDD to see real dividends. While similar technology powers the Xbox Series X's short load times, it has seen little implementation on PC despite the fact that DirectStorage 1.0 launched earlier this year. Forspoken will implement the tech in its PC release and promises to thereby have very fast load times.

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