SteamOS 3.5 will bring Kernel update and SMT Disabling. D8VK Bring Classic Games to Modern Hardware.
Looks like you'll get more ways to optimize the Steam Deck in SteamOS 3.5, meanwhile D8VK will help you revisit old classics.
In a recent tweet, Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais mentioned upcoming performance improvements involving tasks that require simultaneous multi threading (SMT) disabled. This will be included in the Steam Deck's upcoming SteamOS 3.5 update along with a kernel update, although Pierre-Loup did not specify to which kernel version.
Previously if users wanted to disable SMT for better performance in certain tasks like emulation, they had to download the third party tools Decky Loader and PowerTools. I mainly used SMT disabling for Nintendo Switch emulation and while PowerTools is a fantastic plugin, I am excited about the idea of SMT toggling being baked more directly into the Steam Deck's quick menu. The Deck's per game power profiles is a fantastic tool to maximize performance and battery life in a set and forget way. I sometimes forget to re-enable SMT after playing a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on my Steam Deck and then switch to a game I know should perform great only for the frame rate to be halved. It leads to a slight moment of panic that something I've done or am update broke a game only to rhen realize no I'm just terribly forgetful. If you'd like to learn more about how SMT disabling YouTuber CryoByte33 has a in-depth video about maximizing the Steam Deck's performance. In that he touches on SMT disabling which I've linked to that moment however I recommend watching the whole video as it's pretty insightful.
While improving performance in the latest and greatest games is all fine and good, what about some classics? Much like DXVK and VKD3D for translating modern implementations of Direct3D to Vulkan, D8VK looks to translate the much older Direct3D 8 to said Vulkan allowing for better compatibility for older games on Linux. D8VK has not had a final release but had a 0.10 release back on December 6th of 2022. There's a list of working Direct3D 8 games on the GitHub but the one I'm most excited about is Freelancer as I'm a sucker for any game that allows me to live out my Cowboy Bebop/Firefly dreams. It's also nice to see Unreal Tournament 2004 amongst the playable games as preserving the Unreal Tournament games and their multiplayer has become more relevant for fans. As projects like these develop and game compatibility grows for the Steam Deck, maybe we'll see the Steam Deck be the preferred method of revisit PC classics.
Are you excited about revisiting classic games like Max Payne on the Deck? Are you interested in SMT disabling in the next SteamOS release? Are you going to deep dive into CryoByte33's Steam Deck videos like I did? Let us know in the comments down below!