Xbox tech set to reduce CPU overhead by up to 40% when gaming on Windows 11

Windows 11 gamers could get some really beefy benefits from DirectStorage tech, which was recently announced to have arrived on Microsoft’s newest OS – but it’ll be some time yet before developers incorporate it into games.

We already knew that Windows 11 would give users ‘optimal’ results with DirectStorage (compared to Windows 10) in terms of what this feature does – namely seriously speeding up NVMe SSDs.

However, there’s been an eye-opening revelation concerning exactly how much difference this will make when it comes to relieving the pressure on the PC’s processor.

As TweakTown reports, Cooper Partin, a senior software engineer at Microsoft, explained that the DirectStorage implementation for PC is specifically designed for Windows.

Partin noted: “DirectStorage is designed for modern gaming systems. It handles smaller reads more efficiently, and you can batch multiple requests together. When fully integrated with your title, DirectStorage, with an NVMe SSD on Windows 11, reduces the CPU overhead in a game by 20-40%.

“This is attributed to the advancements made in the file IO stack on Windows 11 and the improvements on that platform in general.”


Analysis: CPU resources freed which will make a major difference elsewhere

A 40% reduction is a huge difference in terms of lightening the load on the CPU, although that is a best-case scenario – but even 20% is a big step forward for freeing up processor resources.

Those resources can then be used elsewhere to help big open world games run more smoothly – as we’ve seen before, DirectStorage isn’t simply about making games load more quickly . There’s much more to it than that, and now we’re getting some exciting glimpses of exactly how much difference this Microsoft tech could make to PC games.

Of course, while the public SDK (software development kit) has been released, it’s still up to game developers to bake in this tech when they’re coding, and it’ll be quite some time before we see DirectStorage appearing in many games.

The first game which uses DirectStorage is Forspoken, and we got a glimpse of that at GDC, where it was shown to load up in a single second. Forspoken is scheduled to arrive in October 2022.

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Xbox tech set to reduce CPU overhead by up to 40% when gaming on Windows 11

Windows 11 gamers could get some really beefy benefits from DirectStorage tech, which was recently announced to have arrived on Microsoft’s newest OS – but it’ll be some time yet before developers incorporate it into games.

We already knew that Windows 11 would give users ‘optimal’ results with DirectStorage (compared to Windows 10) in terms of what this feature does – namely seriously speeding up NVMe SSDs.

However, there’s been an eye-opening revelation concerning exactly how much difference this will make when it comes to relieving the pressure on the PC’s processor.

As TweakTown reports, Cooper Partin, a senior software engineer at Microsoft, explained that the DirectStorage implementation for PC is specifically designed for Windows.

Partin noted: “DirectStorage is designed for modern gaming systems. It handles smaller reads more efficiently, and you can batch multiple requests together. When fully integrated with your title, DirectStorage, with an NVMe SSD on Windows 11, reduces the CPU overhead in a game by 20-40%.

“This is attributed to the advancements made in the file IO stack on Windows 11 and the improvements on that platform in general.”


Analysis: CPU resources freed which will make a major difference elsewhere

A 40% reduction is a huge difference in terms of lightening the load on the CPU, although that is a best-case scenario – but even 20% is a big step forward for freeing up processor resources.

Those resources can then be used elsewhere to help big open world games run more smoothly – as we’ve seen before, DirectStorage isn’t simply about making games load more quickly . There’s much more to it than that, and now we’re getting some exciting glimpses of exactly how much difference this Microsoft tech could make to PC games.

Of course, while the public SDK (software development kit) has been released, it’s still up to game developers to bake in this tech when they’re coding, and it’ll be quite some time before we see DirectStorage appearing in many games.

The first game which uses DirectStorage is Forspoken, and we got a glimpse of that at GDC, where it was shown to load up in a single second. Forspoken is scheduled to arrive in October 2022.

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Soon you can manage your Office and Xbox accounts within Windows 11

Microsoft is making further improvements to Windows 11 with a better way to manage your Office and Xbox subscriptions within the Settings app if a Windows Insider build is to be believed.

A Windows Insider build can allow a user to sign up to a release of Windows that’s under development, which could showcase new apps, new features, or different ways to access parts of the user interface.

This change has been in the ‘Dev Channel’ of Windows Insider since late last year and has recently moved up to the ‘Release Channel’ build, numbered 22000.466. This most likely means that we could be seeing this arrive to all Windows 11 users sooner than Sun Valley 2, the next big update to the operating system.


Analysis: It’s about time

We’ve been pleased to see Microsoft constantly look at aspects of Windows and how it could make the operating system easier on the eye, or just easier to use. While this is a small change, it’s going to make a big difference to those who manage Office subscriptions for their family or small business, or your personal Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Going to 'Settings > Accounts > Your Microsoft Account' in the Windows 11 Release Channel will show your active subscriptions, payment history, and rewards, mirroring what you would normally see on the web.

Microsoft Account in Settings, in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

It’s another aspect of Microsoft focusing on the usability of Windows. In the past, such as Windows 8 and Windows Phone, form seemed to matter more than function, and once you got past the main feature that the company was showcasing, you’d be greeted with apps or message boxes that felt as though they had time traveled from Windows 95.

But with other improvements such as a new Task Manager coming, the return of Windows Media Player, and a better Microsoft Store, it looks as though Windows 11 is already shaping up to be a release that’s focusing on the future, not the past.

Regardless, we may see further improvements to how we use the apps and settings that we’ve been used to for years. And if that means few clicks and less confusion for more users, then it will benefit everyone.

Via MSPowerUser

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Xbox Series X: 5 things you need to know

Let battle commence! With both Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5 next-gen consoles having bared their innards, we’re now much closer to knowing the full strengths and weaknesses of each console.

And Microsoft is off to a flying start. With fan-friendly features, a dramatic commitment to cross gen play and the most powerful internal hardware of any console we’ve ever seen, the Xbox Series X is already looking worthy of your gaming time.

So what’s the key stuff to know about the fourth generation of Xbox hardware? What will you be bragging about after pre-ordering the console in the coming months? Read on for the most exciting features of the Xbox Series X we’ve seen so far.

Full Backwards Compatibility

It was one of the best good-will moves Microsoft has made in years. After a rocky launch, the Xbox One got back on track with a renewed focus on games – and that included keeping your favorite, older classics available on the newer machine.

That’s a trend that’s going to continue with the Xbox Series X – and Microsoft won’t be scrimping on the range on offer. Not only will the entire Xbox One back catalogue work on the new Xbox Series X, but so will select games from all previous Xbox console generations. So whether you’re looking to play the OG Xbox’s Fusion Frenzy or go for another trek around Albion in the Xbox 360’s Fable II, you’ll be able to do it on your brand-spanking new console. And Microsoft has some extra treats in store, too…

Retrofitting HDR to Older Games

Yep, you read that correctly. Not only will you be able to play your favorite older games on the Xbox Series X, but they’ll also look better than ever before too. Going a step beyond the Xbox One X’s “enhanced” 4K upscaling tech, the Xbox Series X will be able to add HDR effects to older games that never previously had them.

Machine learning will be used to intelligently, retroactively apply HDR visual via the raw-power of the Xbox Series X – with no developer intervention necessarily needed. And that goes right the way back to first-gen Xbox games, too. So far, Microsoft has demoed Fusion Frenzy showing off the trick, as well as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, which runs at 1080p on Xbox One, and now runs at full 2160p (4K) with HDR on Xbox Series X.

Pause and Resume Multiple Games in an Instant

For months now we’ve known that the Xbox Series X will make use of a custom SSD storage system to boost what developers are capable of building in their games. While we expected this to result in faster loading speeds and improved texture loading, Microsoft has also used it to implement a sweet new feature ‘Quick Resume’.

While we’re still figuring out the exact details of this is going to work, it’ll essentially let you leave multiple games in a stasis-like state, letting you jump instantaneously between a few different titles stored on your machines – and at the exact point you left them at. Think of how you can swipe between apps on your phone and come immediately back to where they were left, but for console games, and you’ll be on the right track. We believe that this will be possible immediately after booting a console from sleep, too.

Smart Delivery will Upgrade Older Games You Own

As the ‘Series’ part of the name suggests, Microsoft sees the new Xbox Series X machines as part of a continuum of the Xbox family heritage. As such, it’s no longer thinking of generational console exclusives, and has committed that first party Xbox games going forward will work on both the new machines (complete with the bells and whistles more powerful hardware affords) and the outgoing Xbox One hardware.

Does that mean you’ll have to buy a game twice? Absolutely not. Microsoft will be introducing a new ‘Smart Delivery’ system which will identify which console you’re playing a game on, and deploy the right version, with all the appropriate graphical bonuses, for your system. And it’ll do this without requiring an additional purchase – buy a game on the Xbox One that supports Smart Delivery, and you’ll get the Xbox Series X version for free. So far, Microsoft has committed to all its incoming first party games supporting the technology, while CD Projekt Red has said it’s Cyberpunk 2077 game will make use of Smart Delivery, too. So don’t scrimp on buying Cyberpunk in this generation for fear of missing out on the next.

Xbox Series X price pre order bundles deals

It’s Insanely Powerful

As if the above hadn’t already suggested so, the Xbox Series X is going to be a ridiculously powerful console.

The Xbox Series X is using a custom-designed processor from AMD (an 8-core, 16-thread processor with a maximum clock of 3.8 GHz, making use of Zen 2 and Navi architecture), a a 12TFLOP GPU (with 3,328 Stream Processors spread across 52 compute units) and 16GB of 14Gbps GDDR6(shared between the CPU and GPU). 

What is interesting is Microsoft seems at pains to point out that the machine will have twice the graphical grunt as the Xbox One X – you're looking at 12TFLOPs vs Xbox One X's 6TFLOPS – but this shouldn't be confused with compute power. Still, combined with the HDMI 2.1 standard, there's enough raw power here to get games running at frame rates as high as 120fps, or potential 8K resolutions for less-demanding content.

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PS5 is already beating Xbox Series X when it comes to developer interest

The next-gen console war hasn't officially started yet but, when it comes to developer interest it seems the PS5 is already beating Xbox Series X – and the Nintendo Switch.

That's according to GDC's State of the Game Industry 2020 survey, which surveyed 4,000 game developers on a variety of industry topics ahead of GDC 2020 in March. And, of course, the next-gen consoles were top of the agenda.

When asked which platform they planned to launch their next project on, 23% of those surveyed said the PlayStation 5, while 17% said the Xbox Series X and 19% said the Nintendo Switch – suggesting the Switch is also currently more appealing to devs than Microsoft's next-gen console.

However, not even the PS5 could hold a candle to PC, which remains the most popular platform among game developers, with 52% saying they were developing their next project for PC.

When it comes to the platform devs are most intrigued by, the PS5 once again leads the pack when it comes to consoles, with 38%, but the Switch only just behind on 37%. Again, the Xbox Series X is seriously lagging behind, piquing the interest of just 25% of devs. 

The survey also revealed that 10% of developers are currently working on a game for the next-gen consoles.

Other interesting trends

Xbox Series X

While the survey seems to suggest that game developers are favoring the PS5 over Xbox Series X, there were some other interesting trends that emerged from the data. 

It seems there's a rising interest in VR, and the Oculus Quest headset specifically, while interest in game streaming services like Google Stadia is also growing. However, the number of devs making mobile games is decreasing. 

It also seems like we won't be dealing in next-gen exclusives anytime soon, as only 5% of developers are creating next-gen exclusive titles – with a third expecting their games to be cross-generation.

While these kinds of surveys aren't always a precise indicator of industry trends, these are the people making games right now, and their views on the industry landscape give us a pretty good idea of the general direction of travel. 

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It’s not too late to grab a fantastic Xbox One deal this weekend as prices drop once more

We've been surprised by some fantastic Xbox One deals this week, and those Xbox One S and Xbox One X bundles are sticking around for the weekend as well. We've been used to seeing these prices over Black Friday and during the seasonal sales, but a sudden price drop back to $ 149 on the All Digital Edition and $ 349 on the Xbox One X are very welcome indeed. 

That's right, those looking to take advantage of the current Game Pass roster or who simply want the cheapest Xbox One deal possible can pick up an All Digital Edition on sale for just $ 149. That low price is courtesy of the fact that this console does not have a disc drive. If you're looking to save on pre-owned physical games or to build up a case collection you'll want to check out the full Xbox One S bundle for $ 63.99 more.  

The $ 212 Xbox One S bundle comes with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order included. Looking for the 4K upgrade? You can also bag an Xbox One X deal with the latest Star Wars title for just $ 349 as sales return to Black Friday level discounts this week. 

These Xbox One deals have been sorely missed over the last few weeks as prices have been rising back to their usual retail positions for the New Year. It's never too late to save on a brand new console, however, so these sales could have come at just the right time for a January mood booster. 

Not in the US? Scroll down for the latest Xbox One deals in your area. 

Today's best Xbox One deals

If these cheap Xbox One sales aren't taking your fancy, why not check out our full collection of Xbox bundles. Or, while you're stocking up on Microsoft goodies, you'll want to take a look at these Xbox controller deals and Game Pass prices

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