Print 23 comment(s) - last by SunAngel.. on Apr 24 at 5:55 AM

High Definition audio codecs with support for DRM protected HD content playback

HKEPC reports Realtek has been showing off its three newest high definition audio codecs at the Intel Developer Forum in Taiwan. The new codecs dubbed ALC885, ALC888 and ALC888 Telecom were initially announced March 10th but no working samples were shown at the time. Realtek was demonstrating working samples at the show, though it appears the samples are reference/development boards and not actual products. Nonetheless, the three high definition audio codecs sport a pretty impressive spec sheet.

At the top of the spectrum is the premium ALC885 high definition audio codec which joins Realtek’s previous upper-end ALC882. New features of the ALC885 include support for a digital microphone, an improved ADC that supports 192 kHz sampling rates and a higher DAC signal-to-noise ratio of 106 dB versus the ALC882’s 101 dB. The biggest feature addition is support for DRM protected content playback. Supported protected content include DVD-Audio, Blu-ray, and/or HD-DVD discs. Copy protected content will be capable of being played back at 24-bit resolution and 96 kHz sampling rates.

Existing features of the ALC882 are also integrated into the ALC885. This includes 10 DAC’s for support of 7.1 channel audio as well as a dedicated headphone output, 6 ADC’s for your various microphone, line, and CD inputs, and DAC sampling rates of 44.1/48/96/192 kHz.

The second new codec is the Realtek ALC888 with similar specifications to the previous ALC883 high definition audio codec. Digital microphone support seems to be the only new feature the ALC888 has over the ALC883. Aside from the digital microphone support the ALC888 supports the same specifications as the ALC883.

Lastly is the ALC888 Telecom which is essentially the ALC888 with additional support for VoIP services. VoIP support integrated into the ALC888 Telecom allows Skype or other VoIP service users to connect a standard telephone to their computer and make calls, essentially integrating a VoIP phone adapter like the ones used by Vonage into your PC.

The ALC885 and ALC888 are both pin compatible with existing ALC882, ALC883 and other 48-pin LQFP packaged high definition audio codecs. The ALC888 Telecom however, is not pin-compatible with existing high definition audio equipped motherboards and systems and uses its own 64-pin LQFP packaging.

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DRM is unconstitutional
By tonjohn on 4/20/2006 1:57:54 PM , Rating: 2
DRM is an infringement on my constitutional rights. The DRM movement needs to end now.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By BigLan on 4/20/2006 2:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
It has nothing to do with your constitutional rights. You're absolutely free not to buy anything which has DRM, just as people are free to only sell stuff with DRM restrictions.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By tonjohn on 4/20/2006 2:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
Shhh!! (I'm trying to start a revolution here.. don't ruin it)

Seriously though, DRM is crap and it needs to stop.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By y2chuck on 4/20/2006 2:23:52 PM , Rating: 2
totally agree. I don't buy anything with DRM and never will.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By drphilngood on 4/21/2006 5:51:19 AM , Rating: 2
No DRM for me, either! We all need to vote with our wallets and kill this insidious evil before it can breed more of its ilk.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By horsecharles on 4/21/2006 6:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yah, otherwise soon, wives will demand their husbands'penises be DRM-implanted. Besides disabling any illicit consummation, wives will be able to go a step further: remotely, through any wireless appliance, even a cell phone, walkie-talkie, shortband radio, etc. they will be able to auto-disable at will even harmless erections, such as when the wind picks up, bladder is full, etc. Conversely, they would be able to for instance re-program the implanted chip to cause massive excitement during individual situation types of their choosing-- at a ballgame with a friend, in the health club sauna, when exchanging handshakes with any male person....
Ha, ha-- women will soon rule the world!

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By michael2k on 4/24/2006 1:06:32 AM , Rating: 2
Like CSS? This means you own no DVDs or DVD players right?

Like Macrovision (which is a content protection system even prior to DRM)? This means you never bought a VHS tape or tape deck with Macrovision?

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By SunAngel on 4/24/2006 5:55:05 AM , Rating: 1
I noticed none of the above replied to your comment. That shut them up real fast.

I actually don't find drm stuff that bad. Sure, I am stuck playing the item only on the computer I purchased it and I can not transcode it, but I do have the ability of connecting the audio/video out to another device such as a stereo or tv and I am listening or watching on an alternative device. It really unconvienient but I have the alternative nonetheless.

The worst thing about drm is it the result of a third party trying to sell something. For example, CinemanNow does nothing we can't do already (i.e. take a dvd and transcode into wmv...well we can't transcode directly to wmv but we can get there eventually). So in order to sell online they must use protection. I always thought this business model has potential but currently the drm is too restrictive.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By drphilngood on 4/21/2006 6:00:20 AM , Rating: 2
Not now, but what happens when DRM is entrenched in all computer hardware? Since I use computers to make my living and there are now no products without DRM, I will effectively be forced to purchase the DRM laden hardware to make that living.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By porkster on 4/22/2006 7:39:32 PM , Rating: 1
China is already developing protcols and hardware for multimedia. I'll support the hardware which isn't LIMITED.

I want a computer for hobby reasons and as a tool, not a preset device.

More and more people are trying to force more money out of the internet, but it will only drive it to be a business platform, therefore loosing the hobbyists and those that are into cyber realm. The net will be like picking up a yellow pages and flicking through it. 50c for this and $1 for that, sorry but that's nto an internet I want. I wont be buying a computer with DRM.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By the1physicist on 4/21/2006 4:41:06 PM , Rating: 2
"It has nothing to do with your constitutional rights. "

Read the 9th Amendment.

RE: DRM is unconstitutional
By michael2k on 4/24/2006 1:04:48 AM , Rating: 2
Which speaks that power not explicitly given to the people or government by default resides in the people.

As an expression of this power I choose not to buy, for example, Microsoft Windows, diamonds, and SUVs.

By InternetGeek on 4/20/2006 11:51:36 AM , Rating: 1
"Lastly is the ALC888 Telecom which is essentially the ALC888 with additional support for VoIP services."

One number is wrong there. Possibly ALC 888 = ALC885 + VoIP Support?

RE: Typo
By clementlim on 4/20/2006 12:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not typo. There are 3 products, ALC885, ALC888 and ALC888 Telecom.

RE: Typo
By Bladen on 4/20/2006 12:47:49 PM , Rating: 4
I would have thought that the higher numbers are better products. However it states that the 885 is the best and replaces the 882 which was the previous top model.

Also saying that the 888 replaced the 883, but as I mentioned it says the 885 is at the top of the spectrum.

I mean why do these marketing type people follow the logic of "new generations get higher numbers to signify being of greater power/features/quality/etc" but not the logic of "higher end chips get higher numbers to signify being of greater power/features/quality/etc"?

Thats the same as ATI making the R600 series cards named X2000's but having the X2300 as the top end and the X2900 as the low end.

RE: Typo
By Zoomer on 4/22/2006 2:18:05 AM , Rating: 2
These chips would likely be sold to motherboard manufacturers, or at most, system integrators, not the mass public. There is no need for such marketing.

Besides, the number 8 is a lucky number for chinese. They must have figured that 888 might help boost sales. :)

By Wwhat on 4/20/2006 11:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
The biggest feature addition is support for DRM protected content playback.

It's cute that companies are trying to sell DRM as a 'feature' but that doesn't mean people that report the news have to blindly copy such nonsense, feature indeed...

RE: uhm
By Tuanies on 4/21/2006 3:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
DRM isn't going away, may as well live with it. At least now you can listen to DVD Audio discs without it being downsampled.

RE: uhm
By tonjohn on 4/21/2006 4:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, lets all bend over and let corporations give it to us in the rear :rolleyes:

DRM is wrong and we should all fight it as long as possible.

RE: uhm
By michael2k on 4/24/2006 1:08:51 AM , Rating: 2
I think it's more reasonable to say, "DRM is inconvenient, stupid, and a waste of time," rather than "DRM is wrong."

DRM is the market's attempt to limit/control consumer behavior. If it works, then it works, and if it doesn't then it doesn't, but I'm not sure I would call it "wrong".

Realtek ALC850 is rubbish
By PrinceGaz on 4/20/2006 7:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't used a mobo with one of the Realtek HD codecs but the ALC850 (or the drivers for it) used on nForce4 mobos is rubbish. It might be fine for Windows blips and pings or playing CDs, but it is no good for gaming unless you turn the audio settings down to minimum.

Given how they dropped hardware sound channels (out of the 32 it was supposed to support) in every driver version I used with the ALC850, I wouldn't trust any onboard (or discrete) Realtek audio solution. If I needed sound on a budget I'd rather get a bargain-bin Via Envy HT24 soundcard than rely on Realtek's rubbish, HD or not.

RE: Realtek ALC850 is rubbish
By Alexvrb on 4/20/2006 11:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
I spotted an Audigy SE for $30 at Walmart earlier. If I didn't have the cash, that would be a good step up in power and quality over onboard for sure. As it stands, I'm pretty happy with my Audigy 2 for gaming. My previous rig had a Fortissimo II, and that was a pretty sweet card for its day, but I've never been satisfied with onboard. I think the best onboard I've used was Soundstorm.

DRM the Downer.
By porkster on 4/22/2006 7:29:18 PM , Rating: 1
The chips seems great bar the DRM angle! I', avoidign all DRM hardware as it limits your experience and abilties.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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