Thumbnail and images courtesy NVIDIA
NVIDIA has announced as of July 18, 2023 that Portal: Prelude RTX is now available. This "fully ray-traced reimagining of Valve's award winning game" uses various technologies to push and demonstrate the boundaries of current and upcoming games. This includes the use of NVIDIA's RTX IO, which can help GPUs and games leverage the performance and bandwidth of fast NVMe SSDs to improve a gamer's experience. Ray tracing and RTX IO alike have multiple applications but certainly it is gaming that's the most immediate and satisfying. The Portal series from Valve has been incredibly popular, so it is a good choice for a demonstration, although there are many other games, including VR-enhanced ones, that could be exciting in the future.
Portal: Prelude RTX helps show off NVIDIA's RTX IO technology, which relies on Microsoft's DirectStorage storage API - this saw an update to 1.2 earlier this year with multiple new features. Microsoft's goal is to have a way to stream data from fast NVMe drives and also leverage the compression/decompression abilities of GPUs to reduce CPU overhead and VRAM load. This update did add support for slower storage devices like HDDs but SSDs, and particularly Gen 4+ NVMe SSDs, provide the best experience. Contrary to some opinions, Microsoft's API isn't designed just for games but can also help with overall storage performance including content creation applications, allowing the Windows operating system and software to be optimized for solid state storage.
NVIDIA's RTX IO is supported on any DirectX 12 video card but is designed for NVIDIA RTX GPUs and helps offload CPU work to improve game load times and also reduces the reliance on the CPU for handling compressed data and textures, allowing fast streaming without lagging the CPU. Higher quality scenes can be streamed more quickly and compression can reduce storage limitations. Faster GPUs and SSDs can offer more improvement, including with the GDeflate feature - which supports Vulkan and Vulkan extensions - for GPU decompression support to help minimize texture asset pop-in. Textures can load up to 5x faster with 44% less disk space usage. Higher quality textures are on their way, with fewer compromises and better streaming performance.
Other game titles with RTX IO support are on the way with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart expected on July 26th. This game will be able to use your fast NVMe SSD for high quality texture streaming thanks to quick asset loading and GPU decompression. NVIDIA suggests downloading an updated GPU driver for the best experience. From our end, any of our SSDs will do, but we offer the specially-designed, DirectStorage-optimized Rocket Plus 4-G, which has custom firmware to make sure your experience is always smooth and consistent. Our upcoming Gen 5 Rocket X5 will also have DirectStorage-optimized firmware for those that can advantage of such insane storage bandwidth. Get ready to game!