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Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Elite Pro - Architecture: Summary

On the previous page we tried to give you a simple explanation of the differences between the EMU10K and the EMU20K chip. Now that we're about to venture deeper into the specifications using just a table to display the differences would be misleading.

First we'll tell you what we meant with "Linear" respectively "Selective" on the previous page.

Classical architecture

In a traditional architecture all data must travel from it's starting point to it's final destination through a number of "breaks". Each "break" is things like for an example sample rate conversion and filter engines. The benefit of using this architecture is actually just that it's very simple to implement.

X-Fi Audio Ring-architecture.

With Creative's new ring architecture the data no longer have to move linear through the sound card. In other words the data can skip "breaks" or go to a "break" multiple times without having to start all over.

Instead of giving a long and complicated explanation right away we thought we'd give you a comparison that's easy to understand even if you don't have any special interest:

Imagine that the sound data that have to go through the card is like going shopping.
In a linear architecture you first go to the bank (sample rate conversion) then the bakery (the filter engine) and after that the furniture store (the mixer) and from there going to your friend (the DSP) where you enjoy your goods(output).
But this means that even if you don't need anything from the bakery one day you're still going to have to go in there just to say hi. It's just as bad if you would remember that you forgot to buy something in the furniture store since you would first have to go to the bank then the bakery before being able to go to the furniture store.
It's the same thing if you would notice that you have to much goods to carry, you would then have to run over the bridge (PCI-bus) to a messy warehouse (Regular RAM) where you can leave your goods until it's time to pick them up again.

With the Ring architecture you don't have to follow a chosen path. If you first want to go to the bank and from there directly to your friend you can do so. Likewise it's not a big deal if you want to go back to the furniture store right after you've come home to your friend. You also have a couple of assistants (hardware threads) that can go buy your furniture while your at the bank making a withdrawal.
If you would realize that you've bought to much goods you can just take out your backpack (X-RAM) and put some of it there. Basically it's a lot more efficient to live in a selective ring architecture.

For those of you who found this explanation unusually lame we thought we'd go deeper into the technical point of view on the next page.

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