From Intel’s press release:
Expected to replace the aging AC’97 specification developed nearly a decade ago, the High Definition Audio (HD Audio) specification ushers in a new era of sound quality on mainstream and performance PCs, paving the way for broad adoption of next-generation audio. The HD Audio specification is designed to implement a broader range of audio, modem and communications functionalities in PCs, handhelds and CE devices.
More than 80 participating companies, including PC and CE manufacturers, codec vendors, software providers and other industry leaders have teamed with Intel to develop the HD Audio v.1.0 specification. This industry group has worked to enable the vision of a flexible, dynamic, cost-effective and stable audio architecture with performance headroom for future expansion.
“The PC will play a vital role in the explosion of home theater and advanced audio solutions,” said Thomas Loza, Intel technology initiatives manager. “The PC platform remains a versatile solution for the media applications consumers are demanding today and High Definition Audio capabilities will propel the PC to truly top-notch audio performance.”
The HD Audio specification will provide an enriched playback experience as well as deliver better-quality input for voice and communication applications. This enablement of higher-quality audio is attributed in part to an upgraded architecture and increased bandwidth that allows for 192 kHz, 32-bit, multi-channel audio. Audio input is enhanced with increased support for multi-channel array microphones, dynamically allocated bandwidth, and audio device configuration flexibility.
The HD Audio architecture is aligned with Microsoft’s Universal Audio Architecture (UAA), and engineers from both companies have been working together closely on specification development. The Microsoft Universal Audio Architecture Initiative aims to create and maintain Windows* audio class drivers for High Definition Audio, USB audio and 1394 audio technologies.
“With the goal of improving the PC audio experience, Intel’s next generation High Definition Audio combined with Microsoft’s Universal Audio Architecture class driver will allow for a greatly improved user experience, new and exciting usage scenarios, and vastly better audio fidelity for users of Windows operating systems,” said Jason Reindorp, group product manager, Windows Digital Media Division, Microsoft Corporation. “Microsoft is working closely with Intel and other industry leaders to ensure that the UAA initiative delivers on this promise.”
Intel’s HD Audio architecture is designed on the same cost-sensitive principles as AC’97 and will allow for an improved audio usage and stability level for onboard PC audio devices. Systems with HD Audio capabilities, which include those with Intel’s next-generation chipset codenamed Grantsdale, are expected to appear in the market later this year.