Vortex 2

Aureal developed the AU8830 ASIC in 1997, it was built from the ground up to accelerate the A3D 2.0 API, it boasts some great features compared with competing Soundcards using DSPs.

The Vortex 2 AU8830 was stated to have 600mips of audio processing power, but this is only a measurement of the internal Sample rate converters Multiply-Accumulate (MAC) unit.

The AU8830 is more than just a Sample rate Converter.

The AU8830 uses many internal custom audio blocks with dynamic routing between them that work together to form a chain of processing.. They are coupled together by the Vortex audio Dataflow Bus (VDB). This bus has an internal bandwidth of 900MB per second.

The AU8830 ASIC had some pretty amazing specs for its release in 1998

  • 128-pin ASIC running at 50Mhz
  • 16-bit 48kHz operation
  • S/PDIF output (32/44.1/48/96kHz Sample Rates)
  • Hardware DMA (96 Channels, 64-Wavetable, 32-General Audio)
  • Hardware Mixers (32 Inputs, 16 Outputs)
  • Hardware CrossTalk Cancellation (10-Channels)
  • Hardware HRTF Engine (56-Tap @48kHz)
  • Hardware Sample Rate Conversion (80 Channels, 5kHz to 192kHz)
  • Hardware WaveTable Engine (64 Channels)
  • Hardware Equalizer (20 Channel, 10-band) with more EQs in other audio blocks
  • Hardware Assisted Legacy Audio for Soundblaster support
  • Supports Addon Boards for Offloading DSP effects
  • Multiple I/O ports for additional hardware, I2S, I2C, Modem, GamePort, MPU-401

The AU8830 was designed primarily to accelerate their new A3D 2.0 API

Each audio block is Sample rate synchronous and can be driven by many variable Sample rate masters, each major audio block (WT,A3D,Xtalk,Mixer and EQ) provide their own Gain and EQ with tracking control.

The more interesting of the audio blocks are the WaveTable and A3D, which provide many features for accelerating the A3DAPI features, such as Reflections, Doppler/Pitch shifting and Atmospheric absorption filtering.

All data in the AU8830 is in 16-bit 2's compliment form and mixed with 56-bit MACs