Technology – The Rest of the Ring
The rest of the Audio Ring isn’t as exciting as the SRC or Quartet DSP but still very important to the efficiency of the X-Fi architecture.
- The Transport node controls flow across the PCI bus and the system’s SDRAM which is important for latency and performance since moving information to and from the PCI bus is slow relative to the speed of the X-Fi card. The Transport is also responsible for addressing any X-RAM onboard. This is effectively like having an onboard buffer for textures on a videocard, but for large/uncompressed audio information. More on X-RAM later.
- The Tank is responsible for processing reverb type effects (chorus, reflections, etc.). These kind of effects are used a lot in games so it gets its own node to increase efficiency.
- The Audio I/O manages the input and output of audio signals.
- The Filter provides equalizer and spatial effects to audio like making stereo sources sound more expansive (“Concert Hall” effects).
- The Mixer is the coordinator for the entire Audio Ring. It’s responsible for routing, combining, and mixing signals between nodes. Without the Mixer, the data flowing through the X-Fi card would not know how to work together.
How far off do you supposed overclocked sound cards are? The similarities to video card hardware is unmistakable, and by the looks of the architecture above I think we’ll probably start seeing overclockable sound cards sooner rather than later.