Last year Microsoft promised to bring its DirectStorage application programming interface (API) that is currently used exclusively on its Xbox Series X game console to PCs. The company has yet to reveal all hardware requirements of DirectStorage, but from a presentation that it recently showed to developers, it looks like any reasonably modern PCs featuring contemporary GPUs and SSDs will be able to support it.
Microsoft’s DirectStorage API was designed for one goal: to reduce CPU load when dealing with NVMe requests and save precious CPU cycles for other workloads. To do so, the API submits large batches of I/O requests in parallel with little intervention by the OS to reduce CPU load and reduce per-request NVMe overhead. This gives applications finer grain control over when they get notified of I/O request completion, instead of having to react to every I/O request.
Since Microsoft controls the feature set of its Xbox Series X console, including its GPU and SSD, supporting DirectStorage on this system was pretty straightforward — Microsoft designed the API with the latest Xbox in mind. But PCs use components with different capabilities, so adding DirectStorage support to Windows 10 systems takes more time, design, and testing.
Microsoft yet has to officially disclose the DirectStorage hardware requirements for PCs. However, a software developer who saw an up-to-date Microsoft DirectStorage presentation and even shared some slides from it said in a Reddit post that the new API will be supported by all DirectX 12-compatible GPUs and SSDs featuring a PCIe 3.0 interface and supporting NVMe. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether all versions of the NVMe protocol will be supported, or whether SSDs will need to support any other capabilities (like a minimum speed requirement).
Supporting DirectStorage on Windows 10 will significantly improve storage performance and reduce loading times in games that support this API (think about games that have an Xbox Series X version). Still, it remains to be seen when exactly Microsoft brings to Windows 10 with support for DirectStorage.