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HD 5xxx Series hardware sound decoding?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 27, 2010 6:52:01 PM

Ok I know that the HD 5xxx series pass 7.1 HD audio through the hdmi port on the cards. The thing I want to know is it simply letting the cpu decode the audio (which I don't want) and simply acting as a gate for the audio to pass through or is the gpu actually working and doing the decoding itself with NO work being done by the cpu (as with dedicated sound cards)?

I ask because I'm recycling an old C2D E6550 @2.33 ghz (will probably oc to 2.7) 2 gigs ddr2 ram @667 and 2x 250 gb drives along with a br drive so I can make my girl a htpc. I want to make sure the br movies play smooth so I want the cpu doing as little work as possible.

The gpu will be an HD 5450 and I know that it allows the decoding of the br to be off loaded to the gpu which lightens the load on the cpu. I want to further lighten that load by taking sound processing duties away from the cpu as well, so I want to know if the 5xxx series does this or should throw in the x-fi titanium I have in my current machine?

I know people say sound cards are dead etc, but that's not the question i'm asking. The question is does the 5xxx series do hardware sound decoding? I appreciate any good responses. Thanks.
November 28, 2010 4:07:11 PM

Wow Really? Nobody has any idea about this?
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November 29, 2010 2:31:02 AM

I know the 5000 series can pass through encoded audio in addition to uncompressed 7.1, but I don't know offhand if they have the ability to decode an encoded audio signal.

If I may ask, what are you trying to accomplish?
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November 29, 2010 2:47:54 AM

From my understanding, the video card just simply passes the audio through and doesn't actually do the work. Normally your on-board motherboard sound chip will do the dirty work. If it's Dolby Encoded 5.1 or 7.1 then no work is done by your computer if you set it to pass through to your receiver. But the on-board sound chip chould be more than adequate for doing any decoding of blue-ray movies.
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November 29, 2010 11:28:21 AM

^^ Technically, the sound chip doesn't do the decoding either, thats generally handled in software by whatever program (WMP, etc) that is doing the audio decoding. Even most dedicated soundcards lack hardware decoding these days (thank you, RIAA/MPAA [/sarcasm]).

I'm pretty sure after doing some searching the 5000 series can NOT decode encoded audio, but I haven't found a definitive answer yet.
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November 29, 2010 3:06:58 PM

gamerk316 said:
^^ Technically, the sound chip doesn't do the decoding either, thats generally handled in software by whatever program (WMP, etc) that is doing the audio decoding. Even most dedicated soundcards lack hardware decoding these days (thank you, RIAA/MPAA [/sarcasm]).

I'm pretty sure after doing some searching the 5000 series can NOT decode encoded audio, but I haven't found a definitive answer yet.


Since when does the the sound chip not do the audio decoding? That's the whole point of having a dedicated sound card in the first place. I think you're mistaken about that. However all signs point to the gpu not taking any load off the cpu when it comes to sound so I might just give her my x-fi titanium as well.
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November 29, 2010 5:14:34 PM

As far as the encoded Dolby/DTS formats go, no, soundcards rarely do the decoding anymore, thats typically left up to digital receivers or software implementations.
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November 29, 2010 5:17:19 PM

gamerk316 said:
As far as the encoded Dolby/DTS formats go, no, soundcards rarely do the decoding anymore, thats typically left up to digital receivers or software implementations.



So if that's the case what do sound cards actually do?
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December 1, 2010 11:53:34 PM

Sound cards are used only of the program decides to use them. Most games will use sound cards to emulate sounds, or to some 3D sound. Some media programs would even use the sound card if it was programmed to do so. There will still be plenty of programs though that simply rely on software methods which will in fact use the CPU.

Like gamerk316 said, encoded Dolby/DTS/Neural are either passed-through to the receiever through HDMI/Optical/etc. or decoded in software by the program mostly by the CPU.

the real advantage to a dedicated PCI/PCIe sound cards is when your NOT using a receiver to power your speakers, and instead using a multi-channel set of computer speakers that plug in with 3.5 mm jacks or using a high end gaming headset. The dedicated sound card will have much better digital-to-analog signal converters then the built-in sound chip on the mother-board.
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