Windows 8: The return of hardware audio?

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by lithos, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

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    I can imagine similar arguments when 3d graphics came in.

    Build it and they will come.
     
  2. Apokalipse

    Apokalipse Member

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    High-eng video cards like the 7970 and GTX 680 are a pretty small market too.
    The absolute market size isn't the real issue. The issue is whether there's the ability to profit from it. I'm quite sure there is.
     
  3. bigheadache

    bigheadache Member

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    Disagree. The high end graphics market has spawned into GPGPU and has applications in CAD, engineering, etc. Nvidia/AMD developing a new high end GPU at massive cost is fine even if they sell relatively few consumer cards, because the margins for FIreGL/Quadro/Tesla cards is huge. GPU tech also filters down the product line into the cheaper cards.

    Contrast that with developing a new sound DSP of some sort. Your consumer market is tiny. Most people will notice the impact of a mid-high end GPU on their gaming experience and happily pay $200-$600. Most however won't tell the difference between a $200 sound card and built in audio on their Logitech/Edifier/yumcha speakers so its going to be a much harder sell. You could try and sell your sound processor to the likes of M-Audio and companies that sell pro audio equipment and get bigger margins, but often their requirements are tuned to audio production and recording; DirectSound or whatever consumer audio API performance is irrelevant.
     
  4. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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    Aye. No one believed that software graphics would be dead with Doom 3.

    No one knew about the GPGU market until GPUs took off, as you said. When they were cranking out Geforce 1s, Nvidia weren't going "Look, I know they've only got one tenuous use now, and most people are using software rendering, but in ten years people'll be building supercomputers outta these things."

    And visuals aren't the only thing that need to be modeled in an industrial setting. A 256-channel wave-tracing sound card - something easily achieved with current tech; hell, it was achievable ten years ago - would easily model, in real time, the acoustics of a model of concert hall with a full orchestra in it, for every seat in the house. Right down to the cannon and church bells for the "1812 Overture". Or model the noise levels in a factor, or generator room. Or the interior of a car or passenger jet.

    Chuck in a decent HRTF surround/ambisonic codec, and you can go the clients, hand them headphones, and say "Here: sitting in this seat, this is what the bassoons will sound like."

    It wouldn't be a DSP. It'd be a processor, similar to the CA20K.

    In fact, here's a good place to start. Four cores and 96 media process should do nicely for a next-gen, top of the line chip.

    The ZM-40 is overkill, probably. You could get by with a ZM-20.

    That's a good point. Why DO people spend so much every year on GPUs? There's no point. Hell, I'm still running a GTX 460. In fact, it cost less than my sound card.

    That's confusing subjective quality with technical quality, when the two are unrelated (and always a danger in these threads, I've found). It's like saying there's not point in buying anything more powerful than GTX 550 if all you've got is a TN panel.

    Like ASIO? It's been built into sound cards for years. And, if you cracked open a lot of high mixing desks, you'd find the same chips used in the Xonar or on motherboards.
     
  5. bigheadache

    bigheadache Member

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    Fair call, but development costs have gone up significantly since the Geforce 1 days. You can see the GPU cycle has gotten longer over time and they are increasingly complex. There was a time in the early days when you had 3dfx, verite, bit brothers (or whatever they were called), etc, etc developing technology. Now its a 2 horse race and the only way to justify billion dollar expenditures on developing high end GPUs for a niche consumer market is if you transfer that tech into higher margin products like tesla boards.



    That's not what I'm saying. I'm pointing out what happens in reality. alot of people will pay up for a graphics card instead of using built in graphics. Far fewer will pay up for a sound card instead of using built in sound. Its a small market as a result. This is a headwind for companies to spend up in developing new audio processors for the consumer audio card market. In fact, as an aside, if we've learnt anything about audio in general - the key to making a shitload of money is making the product look good, making it white or red, and slapping a dr dre sticker on (Ok that's facetious and heading OT). if I had my business hat on, spending money developing audio technology sounds like a waste of time from a pure profit maximising point of view.


    The point I'm trying to make is that Nvidia can take the same GPU and sell it in a tesla board for a far higher price than a GTX 680. This helps defray the cost of developing the GTX 680 in the first place. A company making a new sound controller probably wouldn't benefit from the same thing. The last one I remember off the top of my head that was sold in consumer audio cards and in audio recording sound cards was the VIA Envy24. However, they were mainly in lower end audio recording cards rather than the really high ticket price equipment.
     
  6. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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    You seem to assume that a sound chip of the complexity we're talking about would be as complex and expensive to develop and make into a card as a high-end GPU.

    It wouldn't.
     
  7. Lothar_Wolf

    Lothar_Wolf Member

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    So what would this mean to the state of current and future sound cards?
     
  8. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Creative bribing games/engine developers to use their proprietary technologies as far as the eye can see.

    So... nothing there will change.
     
  9. Apokalipse

    Apokalipse Member

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    There's obviously profit in developing and selling cards like the 7970 and 680 though, just like there will be profit in hardware accelerated 3D audio.
    It won't be as much of a profit as they'll get from professional equipment, but still, there's profit in it.... Nvidia and AMD aren't ignoring the small market space occupied by the high-end gamers.


    If there's going to be a monopoly on the standard, I'd rather it be Microsoft's standard than Creative's. Because at least it would then be possible for other sound card manufacturers to use it.
    Although if an open standard that was actually good (and organised) existed, that would be better. But the problem is open source software usually lacks the organisation necessary to keep updating it, and usually branches off into a bunch of different standards.

    Developers are already using DirectX though. So if Microsoft added hardware accelerated audio as a capability to DirectX (and stuck with it), people will use it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  10. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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    Nvidia does the same thing..."The Way It's Meant To Be Played", or PhysX, anybody? So does MS with GFWL, Havok, SpeedTree...

    See, this is like EA bitching that Valve had a monopoly on PC digital distribution.

    With either Steam or EAX, there was nothing preventing someone doing something similar. Just that they were too lazy too.
     
  11. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

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    @bigheadache, I'm telling you if BF4 came out with better positional audio on "sound accelerators" the market would develop overnight.

    Really, all the hard work is done; the chips are made the dacs are ready the research done.

    Someone just needs to fucking make a good sound card connected to a good api / driver and at least one major game engine, preferably one that licenses heavily, pick it up.

    lithos, wanna start a company??
     
  12. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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    Let's do it now!

     
  13. THE D

    THE D Member

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    http://us.store.creative.com/Sound-Blaster-XFi-MB2-Download-only/M/B006GK73K8.htm

    10000 MIPS X-fi,
    128000 MIPS Quad core i7!
    Get over it!
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  14. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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  15. Apokalipse

    Apokalipse Member

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    Still looking at throughput as opposed to latency.
    Have you actually tried the software? People say it feels sluggish. And it only supports up to 64 simultaneous sounds as opposed to 128 on the 'real' X-Fi's.
    If throughput was the only thing that mattered, you'd expect it to do better than that.
     
  16. THE D

    THE D Member

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    What part of 13 times more powerful don't you understand?

    Pretty sure that Eax5 also means 128 voices!

    Latency is one of the many things CPUs are very, very good at!

    The X-Fi processor is just an old, slow DSP.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  17. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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    So...why aren't we seeing (metaphorically speaking) better sound in games, then?

    EAX has nothing to do with voice count. EAX 5 is just the model of filter.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  18. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

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    Please get a clue and come back.

    Or I've gotta go tell every single music producer in the world they should have been using software audio codecs for all these years...
     
  19. Apokalipse

    Apokalipse Member

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    Do you understand the difference between internet bandwidth and latency?

    It would also be analogous to trying to play a game on the internet while having a large number of torrents downloading.

    No it doesn't. EAX is about being able to give different types of effects to sounds (echo, underwater, in rooms with different materials, doppler effect, etc...)

    Not with every type of usage.

    It's a specialised type of DSP.

    There are problems with Creative's X-Fi sound cards, but having a slow audio processor isn't one of them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  20. OP
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    lithos

    lithos Member

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