The latest release of Microsoft’s DirectStorage SDK brings welcome improvements for HDD users.
SSDs have replaced traditional spinning platter HDDs in many applications, but HDDs still offer unrivaled storage options at affordable prices. Unfortunately, HDDs are significantly slower than SSDs, but DirectStorage 1.2 aims to improve that, at least in part.
Microsoft announced the change in a blog post:
DirectStorage currently opens files in unbuffered mode. This allows us to avoid unnecessary copies, getting the data onto the GPU as quickly as possible. However, we heard from some developers that they’d like to be able to use the same code both on high-speed SSDs as well as legacy hard drives. The legacy hard drives require buffered IO in order to mask the long seek times. For this reason, we added the ability to configure DirectStorage to open files in buffered mode.
This can be enabled by setting the “ForceFileBuffering” field in DSTORAGE_CONFIGURATION1 to TRUE. Note that buffered IO is incompatible with BypassIO, and therefore DisableBypassIO must be set to TRUE when using this option.
It is the title’s responsibility to know when to use this setting. This feature should only be enabled for slower HDD drives that will benefit from the OS file buffering features.
The new feature should especially benefit games, reducing game load times when running a traditional HDD.