Intel High Definition Audio
Intel replaced the good old AC97 sound standard with the new High Definition Audio concept in the i925/i915 chipset series. This solution is also known as Azalia. The major goal of this announcement is to offer the users a better value alternative to the expensive discrete sound cards. Therefore, the new High Definition Audio implements better quality 192kHz 24bit 8-channel sound with the whole bunch of additional advantages.
Besides the higher overall sound quality and support of 8 channels, Intel High Definition Audio supports all new audio formats including Dolby Digital 5.1/6.1/7.1, DTS ES/Discrete 6/1, DVD-Audio and SACD, etc. Besides, it allows better quality voice recording for burst transfer. However, the most interesting innovation implemented in Intel High Definition Audio appeared multi-streaming mode supporting practice it implies that different audio streams can be sent to different devices simultaneously. For instance, Intel High Definition Audio allows using some of the 8 available channels for sound playback in one application, while all other channels will at the same time be involved by another running application. With the sound system based on Intel High Definition Audio you will be able to watch digital video, while another user of your system will be able to listen to music through the headphones connected to the free jacks. And there could be even more examples like that. Moreover, you can also do it the other way around: with one sound output device involved you can play some game and use a voice chat to talk to your opponent at the same time.
Intel High Definition Audio naturally supports Jack Sensing/Retasking technology: automatic resetting of the audio connector functionality depending on the type of the device connected to it. For instance, when the microphone is connected via the loud-speaker, the system automatically shifts the mic channel to this connector, etc.
Of course, the features and high quality of the Intel High Definition Audio subsystem can become an important concept of the Digital Home initiative. However, the developers of codec used together with the new Intel’s audio system can significantly limit the functionality of Intel High Definition Audio implemented in IHC6 South Bridge. Therefore, the real mainboards may also come equipped with low-cost codecs, which will not support certain features implemented in Intel High Definition Audio in order to reduce the mainboard production costs.