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Note regarding all onboard and add-in audio cards and drivers


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Since Intel introduced it's ICH6 chipset specification and offered it's High Definition Audio bus, many companies have introduced High Definition Audio Codecs. Some of these like Realtek have faithfully provided drivers for their chips while others have relied completely on Microsoft to build drivers for them off their specification or OEM builders to distribute a sample driver. Many of these like Sigmatel, Analog Devices, and Conexant only produce the chip itself leaving support up to vendors.

Most of the general vendors releasing PCI and PCIe audio solutions have taken up providing drivers for chipsets they have made but newer chips designed around Vista will have different functionality on Legacy systems using Windows XP as the newer core is designed to offload the CPU as a Co-Processor strictly for audio rather than a native hardware acceleration APU.

Most of these offer support via Microsoft's UAA Driver for High Definition Audio, but there are some that don't. Most of these were built and designed around the new Windows Vista Audio subsystem which leaves most of the audio processing up to the CPU with minimal offload to the APU itself if any. This is why some High Definition Codecs have "Vista Only" drivers and no drivers available for Windows XP.

Linux users have also had to wait to get support via the HDA driver in ALSA and as of recent most High Definition Codecs are supported through ALSA.

This is a comprehensive listing of vendors who support their own sound chips (list will expand if more chipset makers are found):

Creative Labs: http://www.creative.com

VIA Technologies: http://www.via.com.tw or http://www.viaarena.com (used by a lot of well known sound cards)

Nvidia Corporation: ftp://download.nvidia.com/Windows/vista/RC1 (the RC1 drivers have the latest NForce MCP/Soundstorm audio drivers)

Realtek Semiconductor: http://www.realtek.com.tw

C-Media Electronics: http://www.cmedia.com.tw

M-Audio: http://www.maudio.com

ASUSTek: http://www.asus.com

To close, if you have a High Definition Audio chipset and your computer came with Windows Vista or was designed for Windows Vista, and you attempt to install Windows XP, you may be out of luck when it comes to getting compatible audio drivers for that audio chip if the vendor doesn't support it on their own end.

You can search Microsoft's Windows Update Catalog website for basic functionality drivers, but not guarantee any will be found.

*As of January 2008 Microsoft has suspended and terminated any support of "Designed for Windows Vista" HDA codecs due to lack of support from manufacturers. The few remaining drivers made however will remain on Windows Update Catalog, but will not longer be supported.

My advice, if it came with Vista, it came with Vista for a reason and more than likely removing Vista for a downgrade to XP may cripple or limit your hardware, so for now... stick with Vista unless you are absolutely certain you hardware is fully and completely supported.

Edited by whitetigerx7
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