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Creative Labs X-Fi Xtreme Music
OpenAL wrapper allows X-Fi users to take advantage of 3D sound in Windows Vista

Creative Labs has opened up the doors to its ALchemy Project to enable hardware acceleration for DirectSound and EAX audio algorithms in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista. The Alchemy Project is currently in its beta stages and intends to work around Microsoft’s audio limitations in Windows Vista due to the removal of the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or HAL.

Microsoft’s removal of the HAL removes the software layer required by digital signal processors to enable hardware acceleration for various 3D audio algorithms including DirectSound3D and EAX in pre-Vista games. Nevertheless, digital signal processors that support OpenAL can still take advantage of hardware audio acceleration.

The Alchemy Project intends to work around Windows Vista limitations by translating DirectSound calls into OpenAL – essentially an OpenAL wrapper. In order to take advantage of the ALchemy Project OpenAL wrapper the installer copies a few necessary files into each game directory.

The automated installer will install the necessary files into each game directory, if there is official support for the game. Officially supported games include:
  • Battle for Middle Earth 2
  • Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Diablo 2
  • Everquest 2
  • FEAR
  • Full Spectrum Warrior
  • Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
  • Guild Wars
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Max Payne 2
  • Midieval 2: Total War
  • Neverwinter Nights
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
  • NOLF 2
  • Rome: Total War
If the installer does not officially support your game, Creative Labs provides a guide for advanced users to take advantage of the OpenAL wrapper. Manually adding game support requires the copying of two files – dsound.dll and dsound.ini. On occasion, the unsupported game will work with the default configuration settings. If the default settings do not work, the dsound.ini file is tweak able for better performance. Available settings in the dsound.ini include Buffer, Duration, DisableDirectMusic and MaxVoiceCount settings.

In its current beta stages, Creative Labs ALchemy project only supports Sound Blaster X-Fi based sound cards with OpenAL compatible drivers. Users of Creative Labs previous Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 will have to wait patiently for hardware accelerated DirectSound3D and EAX support in Windows Vista. Jessie Lawrence, developer relations for Creative Labs claims:
For the initial beta phase of Creative ALchemy, we made the decision to concentrate on products based on the X-Fi chip. Games developers have put a lot of effort into supporting the advanced features of this chip so we want to provide the best level of support that we can for our most recent hardware. Support for Audigy 2 and 4 class products will be determined as the current beta progresses and we are able to assess the quality of the beta and overall demand for Creative ALchemy.
Users fortunate enough to have an X-Fi based sound card can download the ALchemy Project installer from the Creative ALchemy Project download page.

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By Visk on 1/23/2007 1:57:10 AM , Rating: 3
I got a free copy of Vista Business from my University. It's running pretty sweet right now. Haven't really had any issues besides this one BSOD that happened while installing some beta drivers. In terms of fixing errors that don't let the machine boot, Vista includes an automated repair system in their install DVDs in case anything like that happens...and it worked great when I got that nasty BSOD. Everything is running super smoothly right now, even with (most) beta drivers. I'm running beta drivers with my 8800GTX (ForceWare X 100.30) as well as beta drivers for about every other component in my system (Audigy 2 ZS, LAN Drivers). Of course, I still have a few driver issues with my TV tuner (afaik, ATI hasn't released any TV-Wonder Elite drivers for Vista)

Anyways, I'm digging all the new features. I'm liking all the revamped Explorer GUI and Aero as well. The new ALT+TAB is amazing (includes screenshots of all the windows, and they're also selectable with your mouse). Of course, I'm running a dual boot right now (WinXP and Vista), as I still need some apps that don't work with Vista very well (my skin apps, some other GUI tweaks, some games don't run very well; but the frameloss is nothing when you have an 8800GTX)

Although I hate to say it, I'm liking the gadgets (or widgets, whatever you want to call them) I've got the sidebar set to always on top. I like being able to see my wid/gad-gets at all times when not gaming. The ones I have are mostly system monitors (all my drives, cores, and memory usage, ping stats, terminal services).

Everything is working very well for me! I recommend upgrading because everything is a lot easier to access. Although it takes a little getting use to, everything works very well!

RE: Vista
By JimFear on 1/23/2007 5:29:40 AM , Rating: 2
If you like the new Alt+Tab I suggest you try Flip 3D if you haven't already, press the Windows Key+Tab to bring up the 3d interface :)

RE: Vista
By Hare on 1/23/2007 11:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
If you like Flip 3D you might want to check out Expose :)

RE: Vista
By ObscureCaucasian on 1/23/2007 11:20:20 AM , Rating: 3
If you like Expose you might want to check out Flip 3D :)

RE: Vista
By Visk on 1/23/2007 12:24:38 PM , Rating: 2
" If you like the new Alt+Tab I suggest you try Flip 3D if you haven't already, press the Windows Key+Tab to bring up the 3d interface :)"

I'm aware of the Flip3D feature, but it doesn't really do it for me. It's nice and all, but I can maneuver through my windows a lot faster if I can see them all at once

As for the Expose thing, there's this one program available (for WinXP and Vista) called Topdesk, that adds the Flip, Spacial, and Grid window animations from Aero and Expose.

Expose is great, but being able to instantly see all your windows without any sort of lag or hog of resources is great.

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