ASUS made another interesting product announcement at Computex 2008 today. The company gave a preview of its upcoming Xonar HDAV1.3 HDMI-ready sound card. The card is HDMI 1.3a compliant and offloads audio processing from high-definition video.
The Xonar HDAV1.3 can decode lossless audio formats from Blu-ray films including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio at 24-bit, 96-192 Khz. The card runs on a PCI Express x1 slot and can deliver up to 7.1 surround sound.
To reduce noise Asus uses analog audio with 120db signal-to-noise ratio with distortion as low as 0.0004% on all 7.1 channels. To handle the video portion of Blu-ray discs ASUS integrates a Splendid HD video processor that provides a clear image form Blu-ray titles without having to rely on the CPU of a computer.
This means that users of desktop systems that don’t have a discrete graphics card or a high-end CPU can enjoy Blu-ray movies and high definition sound by installing one card into their computers. The brain of the Xonar is the ASUS AV200 codec chip that features digital to analog convertors. This card is the first in the Xonar family to use opamp sockets to allow for solder-less modifications to customize sound to the individual's liking.
A deluxe version of the HDAV1.3 offers all the same features as the standard card plus adds a HDAV H6 surround channel expansion card. ASUS declined to comment on pricing and availability for the HDAV1.3. With ASUS’ low end Xonar card—the Xonar DX 5.0—retailing for $89 it’s a safe bet the HDAV1.3 will go for well over $100.
quote: I can't wait to have a dedicated soundcard that takes care of the processing (decoding to lossless PCM takes a chunk of CPU cycles no matter what system you are running).