ATI Technologies on Thursday demonstrated a technology that allows graphics processing units (GPUs) to compute audio effects. In the light of today’s raw-power of graphics processors, the initiative looks promising and may offer some advantages, however, the world may never see any audio technologies in the graphics chips.
At an event in London, UK, ATI showed off a demo from its software development kit (SDK) that described how can a Radeon X1300-series graphics processor compute audio data. The demo just demonstrated a simplistic equalizer, which does not require a lot of power or specific features from a processor, however, ATI has shown that it was looking in the direction; just like the company indicated it was looking at physics computing on the GPU slightly more than half a year ago.
Theoretically, audio capabilities on the GPU could allow graphics cards makers to multiplex audio signals into HDMI or DisplayPort outputs. On the other hand, currently computer mainboards are already equipped with built-in audio, which means, there is hardly any need in additional GPU audio capabilities. Still, theoretically, in certain game cases, when graphics, physics and audio are tightly combined, computing on a single device may offer some advantages.
Even though theoretical computing power of the Radeon X1300 graphics processor may be high, it may be years, if not decades, away from utilizing it, or its successors, for audio processing, though. For example, the so-called general-purpose computing on a graphics processor was firstly tried out in 2000 or 2001, though, until now there are no mass deployments of graphics processors for general purpose computing.
Havok, the company known for physics engines development, recently announced its Havok FX engine, which could take advantage of processing power of contemporary GPUs to compute physics effects. Game developers reportedly do create games using the tools provided by Havok, however, it is uncertain, whether physics effects made using Havok FX will be as good, as those, which are produced on dedicated Ageia PhysX processor or traditional central processing units.