Reading the new sound card reviews, I noticed that MP3 playback with the SB Live! card hit 15%. Using Winamp on my computer, I get 0% CPU utilization during playback with the same sound card, although many other MP3 programs on my computer use around 7-15% of the CPU time. This seems to indicate that many sound cards (or at least the SB Live!) are capable of full MP3 decoding acceleration, but many programs do not take full advantage of it. If I'm wrong here, could someone please clear this up for me?
No, the SoundBlaster Live! has no MP3 acceleration! The 0% CPU utilization you see is due to the highly optimized nature of Winamp. On 3DNow! and SSE -enabled CPUs there is hardly any CPU utilization because all of the complex floating-point calculations done for decoding are accelerated by 3DNow!/SSE. Windows Media Player 7, on the other hand, is one of the most highly un-optimized players in existence so 15% CPU use is normal.
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