Creative launches new motherboard sound chip, but where's X-Fi?

sound core

Is Creative backing away from its well known X-Fi brand? The audio specialist has just announced a range of integrated sound processors using a new logo and name, Sound Core 3D.

What's curious is that looking at the specs sheet, Sound Core 3D is an X-Fi in all but name, and like the Bard's rose presumably sounds the same. For starters, the press release says that it's powered by the Quartet DSP: that's a four core digital signal processor that has been the heart of the X-Fi chips since their launch, but which hasn't been promoted by that name for nearly six years. I may be wrong, but I don't recall it appearing on any Creative literature since 2005.

It also comes packed with TruStudio Pro , which is a package of technologies for improving sound quality promoted as a collaboration between THX and Creative. A lot of these, like the Crystalizer feature for expanding dynamic range, were originally X-Fi branded.

Of course, it could just be that Creative is trying to establish Sound Core 3D as a separate brand for integrated sound, but why bother when X-Fi is so well known? It's allowed OEMs to use the X-Fi name before, after all.

If the chip is indeed the same - and we're just waiting for the US to wake up to find out - then it's good news whatever it's called. It's a commonly held position that on-board sound chips are good enough these days, and it's true that they're perfectly capable of doing things like surround sound and various in game effects. But they could be better, and with fewer people upgrading to a decent add-in soundcard now, I do worry that a lot of gamers are missing out. A low cost, high quality processor like this could make a respectable, if not life changing, difference.

According to Creative, Sound Core 3D will also be available as an embedded chip for other devices.

I'll keep an eye on the news coming out of Computex this week to find out which motherboards will come equipped with Sound Core 3D, reading between the lines on the press release, it's likely that Gigabyte will be the first.