Creative Software to Upgrade Motherboard Audio

Creative Labs and Analog Devices announced a deal that will bring the SoundBlaster brand to a motherboard near you. (Baseline)

Creative Labs Inc. and Analog Devices Inc. on Tuesday announced a deal that will bring the SoundBlaster brand to a motherboard near you.

This fall, Creative plans to ship a software application that will use the power of ADIs onboard audio chips to provide SoundBlaster-quality audio and enhanced support for Creatives EAX audio standard, the companies said.

According to officials at Analog Devices, the software upgrade will either be included in a motherboard makers retail box or will be available as a trial download application that can then be purchased. The software will be rolled out in new PCs that ship this fall, Creative officials said.

Creative has had a few motherboard-down offerings of its own in the past, including the SoundBlaster 512. However, the Singapore-based company has yet to make substantial inroads into the growing integrated audio space.

Solutions based on Intel Corp.s new HD Audio spec are coming to market soon and will represent a more serious threat to Creatives core business of manufacturing PCI-based sound cards. The deal will allow Creative to feature its SoundBlaster brand in integrated solutions via the new software, without having to compete for motherboard design wins.

"Its a software program for right now. The customer will be able to go out and seamlessly upgrade," said Phil OShaughnessy, a spokesman for Creative Labs. As it stands, he said, customers will be able to upgrade to "some" of the EAX features found within the SoundBlaster Live series of cards. Over time, customers would potentially get access to the quality of audio found within Creatives Audigy cards, he said. Todays announcement also gave no indication that this is an exclusive arrangement between Creative and Analog Devices, meaning other motherboard audio hardware makers may offer Creatives software upgrade in the future as well. It is also possible that the solution will use some percentage of the host CPU.

However, Creatives OShaughnessy said that the software would work with either older Audio Codec 97 (AC97) audio solutions or the new HD Audio standard.

In related news, OShaughnessy said that Creatives audio cards will continue to use the PCI connector for the time being. Graphics cards like those made by Creatives 3Dlabs division have made the jump to PCI Express, a feature of the new Intel 915- and 925-based motherboards.

ExtremeTech will review Analog Devices new HD Audio solutions as well as Creatives software upgrade as soon as evaluation hardware/software is available.

Editors Note: This story was updated at 4:15 PM on Tuesday, July 6. Additional reporting by ExtremeTechs Mark Hachman.


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