I tested RTX IO, a game changer for PC graphics

I tested RTX IO, a game changer for PC graphics

You will not suspect that Maud like Portal: Prelude RTX It will launch such a master piece for the future of PC gaming. But, it’s the first game we’ve seen with Nvidia’s new RTX IO, a feature announced nearly three years ago.

It’s not as flashy as ray tracing or DLSS, running in the background and offering a slew of benefits without drawing attention to them. But according to my testing, RTX IO may have more impact on PC gaming than any other RTX features.

What is RTX IO?

Portal: Prelude RTX | RTX IO Off vs On Comparison – Scene cake

First, let’s talk about what RTX IO is. It’s GPU accelerated asset loading and decompression that promises faster load times, smaller install sizes, lower CPU usage, and less texture popup. It does this by offloading some of the work your CPU is doing onto the GPU, taking advantage of the huge number of cores available on the graphics cards.

When you load games normally, the assets are ejected from the SSD and loaded into system memory. It spins out of memory on your CPU to decompress before returning to memory. Once the full original is ready, it is sent to the graphics card. This system has been running for a long time, but there’s a problem with it now: the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

As I wrote about earlier, the PS5 and Xbox Series X both have dedicated hardware decompression that completely cuts the CPU out of the process. Assets are decompressed faster, thus accessing the GPU faster. The storage inside computers these days is fast enough to keep up with this level of streaming, but they lack dedicated decompression hardware to make it work. This is where RTX IO comes in.

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Compressed data exits the SSD into system memory and goes directly to the GPU. It’s passed through GDeflate, Nvidia’s open source data compression scheme designed for GPUs, and it’s instantly ready in the GPU.

If you keep up with the technology, you can probably spot the similarity with Microsoft’s DirectStorage. RTX IO runs on top of DirectStorage, and it also supports Vulkan extensions, allowing it to run in games like Portal: Prelude RTX. None of this is proprietary, either; There’s been a lot of finger-wagging at Nvidia over Deep Learning Super Sampling (now open source), but RTX IO works on any DirectX 12 graphics card.

But does it work?

This is all great in theory, but GPU stress relief is uncharted territory on a PC – even with games like Facebook that support DirectStorage. You don’t need to look any further than the install size to see that RTX IO works. If you want to download Portal: Prelude RTX Right now, you’ll see that it’s about 24GB (exactly 24.29GB at the time of writing). With RTX IO off, the total install size is 39.16GB. That’s a 38% decrease in install size for the exact same game.

texture was loaded a lot Faster too. In one scene, the textures took 3.13 seconds to load with the RTX IO turned off, which resulted in a noticeable popup. With RTX IO running, they arrived in 1.36 seconds. In the most demanding scene I looked at, loading textures took 6.34 seconds with RTX IO off. When running, they arrive in just 2.51 seconds.

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Consider a range Portal: Prelude RTX, also. It’s a game that goes in depth, not wide, and offers full path tracing and highly detailed textures for every corner of the scene. In a larger game, it’s not hard to see the benefits of RTX IO for texture streaming. With the right optimization, and RTX IO trimming nearly two-thirds of the time it takes to stream textures, there are some obvious applications in large open-world games.

CPU usage also decreased. In the demanding landscape I mentioned above, utilization peaked at 37% (and that was with the brutal 24 cores). Intel Core i9-13900K). Turn on RTX IO, and it drops to 22%. From what I can tell, it looked like that Portal: Prelude RTX Scaled to eight cores. Some games, especially those built on the Unreal Engine, can see more benefit if they are limited to just a few cores.

What does this mean for computer games

Make no mistake: Portal: Prelude RTX It is an anticipation of what gaming could look like with technology in the future. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long to see what it can do in other games. Nvidia confirmed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will RTX IO support on PC, allowing this game’s storage-intensive design to work.

What gets me most excited is the optimization benefits RTX IO (and DirectStorage, for that matter) can bring. I’ve been vocal about the fact that it’s a bad time to be a PC gamer and that pretty much boils down to the constant stuttering across the major AAA releases. Hardware accelerated decompression doesn’t solve the stuttering problem on your PC, but it can help.

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As seen in games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Dead Space, And RedfallAnd Traversal stutter is still a real problem on PC. It’s especially a problem when games are designed to run on just a few CPU threads (as is the case with Unreal Engine titles like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor And Redfall). Taking some work away from those cores in the decompression department could free them up to, well, run the game, and hopefully avoid some of the major stuttering issues we’ve seen this year.

If so, decompressing RTX IO and GPU is a great swing to help PC gaming. Faster load times and smaller install sizes don’t hurt, but hopefully the real benefit of something like this lies in its ability to reduce stuttering in games that squirt huge assets in and out of the game world.

For now, we just have to wait until we see more games with RTX IO and other GPU decompression technologies. Apart from the Ratchet & Clank Rift It starts July 26th, but hopefully we’ll see more sports throughout the year.

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