Predicting the future is tough, especially when it’s present in so many concurrently running technologies. DirectX 12 is currently available via Windows 10 but games are still a ways off from directly utilizing the API. The Xbox One and PS4 are currently in their third years with their bottlenecks starting to show. Factor in technologies like DDR4 memory and SSDs that continue to expand and it becomes tough to keep track of everything.
GamingBolt had a chance to speak to Micron Technology’s Crucial DRAM product manager Jeremy Mortenson about various technologies like DRAM, DirectX 12 and much more.
"As with most product transitions, it will take some time for games to take full advantage of APIs new features, but the timing varies."
Windows 10 is finally out and as was assumed before, it will need powerful hardware for gamers to properly take advantage of its new features. Concerning performance with DRAM and SSDs, how do you feel those would help to significantly boost one’s gaming experience?
Jeremy Mortenson: SSDs improve the overall gaming experience by shortening the boot and load times for the operating system and gaming applications. This translates to less waiting, and more playing.
Having ample DRAM in your gaming system ensures there are enough resources for the OS and limits hard drive caching; while faster DRAM improves responsiveness through higher bandwidth and speed, providing an overall better performing system.
Additionally, faster DRAM will help when utilizing a system with integrated graphics, since the system uses shared DRAM. Faster DRAM = higher frame rates when using integrated graphics.
Multi-tasking has been around for quite a while but there have always been certain bottlenecks in computer architecture that prevented it from reaching its full potential. How does Windows 10 in conjunction with DRAM and SSD hardware surpass these bottlenecks?
Jeremy Mortenson: With newer technology like DDR4 memory and SSDs, there’s a greater bandwidth and throughput available to better transfer data to the system and CPU; whereas previous generations of memory and traditional hard drives may have limited data transfer capabilities. These faster technologies, along with Windows 10, help reduce bottlenecks that may have previously limited performance in certain applications.
With regards to DirectX 12, how long do you think it will take for games to actually take advantage of the APIs new features on PC and Xbox One?
Jeremy Mortenson: As with most product transitions, it will take some time for games to take full advantage of APIs new features, but the timing varies. The length of time really depends on the game developers, since they’ll be the ones to optimize for DirectX 12. Given the initial benefits talked about in the press, one would think everyone would want to get there as soon as possible.
"From a hardware standpoint, we’ll continue to see increased densities on DRAM and NAND over the next several years allowing for higher capacity DRAM modules and SSDs. This is particularly important as devices continue to become ultra-portable and have smaller form factors which are limited by space constraints…"
How will SSDs and DRAM significantly affect the overall ability of players to stream games from their Xbox One to Windows 10 PCs?
Jeremy Mortenson: One of the primary limitations for streaming games is the network devices are attached to; networking aside though, PCs should be equipped with SSDs that have substantial read/write speeds and enough DRAM to ensure the OS and applications have adequate resources to run optimally. For many users, PCs are being utilized for multiple purposes and running any number of applications at a given time; therefore, a substantial SSD and a sufficient amount of memory will keep PCs running at peak performance. More throughput and speed limits the potential for buffering or slowdowns.
Though there is enough that SSDs and DRAM could do to effectively boost Windows 10 performance in the short term, what are your thoughts on the long-term effects for Windows 10?
Jeremy Mortenson: The longer term implications depend on any additional optimizations that Microsoft may build into the OS, as well as enhancements that application developers implement over time. From a hardware standpoint, we’ll continue to see increased densities on DRAM and NAND over the next several years allowing for higher capacity DRAM modules and SSDs. This is particularly important as devices continue to become ultra-portable and have smaller form factors which are limited by space constraints; consumers will then be able to take advantage of higher density DRAM and SSDs to improve performance simply by upgrading their memory and storage hardware.
Do you believe Windows 10 could contribute to a rise in the demand for SSDs and DRAM, and possibly bring about more mainstream acceptance for the same in the long run?
Jeremy Mortenson: Maybe not so much with Windows 10 specifically, but as platforms and their hardware requirements evolve, we can anticipate continued demand for memory and storage solutions.
With the potential behind Windows 10 in the combination of software and hardware performance, how do you feel it will contribute to ushering certain luxuries like 4K gaming to the majority of consumers?
Jeremy Mortenson: 4K gaming performance is dependent upon a combination of hardware and software improvements. The graphics components and system need to be able to push the higher resolutions. Additional graphics memory (either dedicated or shared with the system) will be essential to the overall speed of the system. With Windows 10 and the optimizations coming as a result of directX12, 4K performance will be more achievable on newer systems.
"The true benefits of DX12 in gaming performance will be something to look forward to as more games, drivers, and hardware are optimized to take advantage of the technology; in turn, giving players a better experience and improved framerates."
What will the future of Windows 10 and the powerful hardware it supports mean for gaming consoles in your opinion, though the Xbox One is somewhat ensured given its streaming and Xbox Live capabilities?
Jeremy Mortenson: PC’s get refreshed hardware at a more frequent cadence and can outperform an older console with the right game that is written to take advantage of these improvements.
What are your favourite features of Windows 10 which you believe hold the most untapped potential currently?
Jeremy Mortenson: The true benefits of DX12 in gaming performance will be something to look forward to as more games, drivers, and hardware are optimized to take advantage of the technology; in turn, giving players a better experience and improved framerates. If DX12 can take advantage of and optimize for multi-adapters (a combination of discrete and integrated graphics), even with different brands, many of today’s gamers would get a boost to framerates since many have a dedicated graphics card with the integrated graphics essentially sitting idle. As mentioned previously, faster DRAM will help integrated graphics performance, so it’ll be interesting to see what develops here and if consumers/gamers can take advantage of this benefit.
Can you tell us your future plans with regards to hardware for Windows 10?
Jeremy Mortenson: For Windows 10, there aren’t any specific DRAM or SSD hardware plans per se, as these are industry standard parts and depend on the hardware platform being utilized. However, improvements in DRAM speeds and bandwidth using DDR4, higher capacities of DRAM modules and SSDs, along with the continued evolution of technology will push performance to higher levels.