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Functionality

Sound cards from Creative Labs we are looking at today are based on the latest Creative X-Fi Fidelity audio processor, which contains about 51 million transistors inside a relatively small casing. X-Fi chip is manufactured with 130nm production process and works at 400MHz frequency. The computational power of this processor, i.e. its performance, is estimated as 10,000 MIPS (million instructions per second), which is actually about 24 times higher than the estimated performance of the predecessor – the Audigy processor. In fact, it is even more instructions per second than a contemporary Pentium 4 CPU can process. The interesting thing is that the processor’s computational power is optimized for the work mode selected in the software. There are three choices: Entertainment Mode, Game Mode or Audio Creation Mode.

This flexibility is already implicated in the newest architecture – the Active Modal Architecture (AMA). It implies the use of multiple mechanisms for dynamic optimization of the processor’s resources based on the so-called Ring Architecture.

Creative first mentioned the development of the new processor and Xtreme Fidelity standard on May 12, 2005, and the first public demonstration of the new solution took place at E3 show in Los Angeles. At that time a lot of experts who had the chance to listen to the sound quality provided by the new audio card were quite excited about it. And today, each one of you has the chance to upgrade the sound system of your PC so that you could hear everything we are talking about with your own ears. According to the manufacturer, the user will get better quality sound, acceleration in games and additional comfort during music playback and listening via headphones.

The remarkable peculiarity of the new sound cards is a new feature for additional sound quality improvement aka SoundBlaster X-Fi 24-bit Crystalizer CMSS-3D. It is claimed to be “enhancing MP3s and movies to sound better than they do on their original CD or DVD”. Of course, there is an entire special marketing force who are responsible for composing press releases like that, and they have the right to do it this way, no matter how exaggerated it may sound :)

What else is new...? The new sound cards bring into the world new math1ematical algorithms for sound processing. In particular they employed the new Headphone Expander CMSS-3D technology to improve the sound quality during playback and listening in the headsets offering more volumetric and intensive sound quality. Here I would like to quote Creative Labs’ marketing people by saying that “externalizes the audio by creating ten virtual speakers around you, above you and below you for an experience that's so real you'll forget you're wearing headphones.” On my part I can only add that if you really want to experience anything like that you should make sure that your headphones are of really high quality and maybe even revise your approach to quality audio formats.

 
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