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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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RE: XP
By Micronite on 1/23/2007 12:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
Not that I don't agree with you, but...
I bet you're one of those people who said:

"Yet another reason to stick with 98. Are there any real advantages to XP? Sounds like a lot more trouble to me..."

I don't think it will take long before most people want to get on the Vista bandwagon.


RE: XP
By SGWB on 1/23/2007 2:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not that I don't agree with you, but...

I bet you're one of those people who said:

"Yet another reason to stick with 98. Are there any real advantages to XP? Sounds like a lot more trouble to me..."


XP still isn't worth the upgrade from Win2K. The only two features that make me want to upgrade my 2K machines to XP are:

A. Microsoft has not released WPA support for Win2K despite early claims that it would be forthcoming. (There are some 3rd party WiFi wrappers and some 802.11 card drivers that can do it.)

B. NetFlix will supposedly only support XP and Vista with their upcoming streaming movie service.


RE: XP
By JeffDM on 1/23/2007 10:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
You still didn't explain what Vista does that's better than XP. The biggest advantage of XP over 98 is stability, but it took a while for this to be proven, I think in part because early drivers and pre-SP1 was troublesome. It took a couple years before people in general accepted the performance hit, and that might have been the amount of time that it took third party developers to re-tune their programming to take advantage of XP.

Vista's important improvement might be security, but I seem to recall several times where Vista had the same serious networking bugs as XP, and I thought that Vista was supposed to have a reworked network system.


"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner











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