Microsoft Details Windows 10 Game Mode at GDC

/ 4 years ago


One of the new features Microsoft is set to introduce to Windows 10 is the new Game Mode. Coming with the Creators Update next month in April, the new feature is aimed at providing more performance to games on Windows 10. So far, Microsoft had only released some vague statements about Game Mode prioritising the game code but nothing specific. During GDC, the company has come out with more information as to how it will achieve the increased performance.

During GDC, Eric Walston from the Xbox Advanced Technology Group shared some new details about the prioritisation. The first part that is optimised is the CPU portion. Right now in Windows, the game process is just one among many others, all equally vying for CPU time. With Game Mode, entire cores will get dedicated solely to processing the game code. This means for a six-core processor, 4 cores might be reserved exclusively for the game. This ensures that the entirety of the CPU and cache is dedicated to the game, reducing thread contention. Such a move goes beyond merely changing the process priority of the game in task manager.

On the GPU side, Microsoft is also planning to provide more resources to the game. Windows already devotes more GPU resources to the active window but Game Mode takes it to the extreme. Game related graphics memory will get priority to VRAM and everything else gets downgraded to a second class citizen. In many ways, this is Microsoft stepping into the domain of graphics drivers by optimising the GPU resources.

For the initial implementation, users will have the final call whether to invoke Game Mode or not. Developers, however, will have the option to run hardware queries to trigger Game Mode by default for their title. What I expect to happen is that there is be a system wide Game Mode toggle as well as game specific ones. It will be interesting to see if the suggested gains materialise from using Game Mode.

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