Forspoken dev says one-second game loads are now a tentative reality on PC

Last Monday, Microsoft said DirectStorage would usher in “a new era of fast loading times and detailed worlds in PC games.” And while that now seems a bit too grand, the developer of the upcoming tech showcase game Speak now claims that one-second load times are rightfully within reach.

Speaking at a GDC 2022 presentation on the technology built into the PC version of the game, Luminous Productions CTO Teppei Ono said the Square Enix title will actually load some scenes in a flat second, at provided your Windows 11 PC has an NVMe SSD capable of over 5000MB/s reads.

That one-second loading time isn’t the case for all scenes, and he didn’t show us any scenes loading in that amount of time – instead, we saw sample cutscenes and gameplay. or Speak took 1.9 seconds, 1.7 seconds and 2.2 seconds to get us there, thanks to the way DirectStorage offloads the streaming of graphics assets from the CPU to the GPU.

Please forgive the poor quality of these GDC stream screenshots.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister/The Verge

You might be wondering if it’s much faster than games run without Direct storage, and Ono admits that the answer is actually no, not yet: while you’ll definitely see a huge speed boost from an SSD on the magnetic spinning platters of an HDD, and from an NVMe SSD on a SATA drive more slow, the current implementation of DirectStorage in Speak only removes one of the big I/O bottlenecks – others exist on the CPU.

And if you were hoping that DirectStorage would bring improved performance with regularly spinning hard drives, the answer isn’t yet: “Hard drives don’t deliver the expected result due to hardware performance limitations,” says Ono.

The times are about the same for hard drives with and without DirectStorage.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister/The Verge

Impressive loading times on SATA and M.2, but not significantly different.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister/The Verge

But, says Ono, “I/O is no longer a bottleneck for load times” – DirectStorage’s data transfer speeds are clearly faster for SSDs, and they could improve it in the future. future if they discover other CPU bottlenecks and take full advantage of GPU Resource Decompression.

Look at that huge leap in I/O; Too bad we don’t see much in the game yet.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister/The Verge

In general, he says, most PC games don’t benefit from the fast NVMe SSD as much as Speak, claiming that most games have loading times over 10 seconds. In my experience, the fastest load times I saw were on Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade on a PS5, which can take just 10 seconds from leaving the PS5 home screen to being able to move your character, four to five times faster than on PS4. It’s not clear if Speak account of the launch of the application to the playable gameplay or not.

With SpeakOno says they also use other techniques to speed up load times, like loading the game ahead of time while you’re on the title screen.

AMD also revealed today that Speak will support FidelityFX Super Resolution 2.0 time-scaling for higher effective resolutions or faster frame rates, which the team says took less than a week to integrate into the game.

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