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Despite of decreasing popularity of standalone audio cards, Asustek Computer aims to start selling its Xonar D2-series audio cards in the third quarter. The price of the product will not be low, but Asustek hopes that it would still get popular on the market.

First demonstrated at CeBIT 2007 trade-show, Asustek’s Xonar D2 and D2X audio cards feature 7.1 audio outputs, advanced audio capabilities Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Digital Live, DTS Connect, DTS Interactive, DTS Neo: PC and so on. According to Asustek, the Xonar D2-series will feature impressive 118dB playback and 115dB recording sound to noise ratio, which indicates that the company uses pretty high-quality components with the new audio boards.

Asus claims that its Xonar D2 audio cards are based on its in-house developed AV200 audio chip. But since Asustek does not design processors, it is pretty logical to assume that the company purchases its 192KHz/24-bit audio chips from a third-party developer. In fact, a very similar audio processor is used on Razer’s Barracuda AC-1 audio card. Some sources assumed that both cards use C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 chips.

Manufacturing of AV200 chips have already started at United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) using 0.35 micron process technology. Asus Xonar D2 will be available in Q3 2007 and will cost $199, reports DigiTimes web-site.

It is questionable whether Asus’ Xonar D2 will become popular, as even Creative Technology’s Audigy and X-Fi audio cards command only a tiny percentage of audio solutions as the vast majority of them are integrated into chipsets nowadays. According to some estimations, Creative Labs has 1% of audio processing solutions market.

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