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EPoX 8RDA+ - nForce2 APU: SoundStorm

Nvidia introduced it's powerful APU (Audio Processing Unit) already during the introduction of the gaming console Xbox. The two nForce chipset which followed after this introduction have used just about the same APU and it still performs outstandingly. The audio processor in the nForce2 chipset which is placed in the south bridge (MCP-T) of the chipset is for example the only sound circuit on the market which offers realtime encoding of the Dolby Digital-format. That the whole APU fits in the already well filled south bridge does not make it less impressive.


Block diagram over the nForce2 APU

One word which is often connected to the nForce chipsets is SoundStorm, which however is a bit of a woolly concept. SoundStorm is simply nVidia's specifications that motherboards should fulfill to fully support the powerful features of the audio processor. In these specifications everything from analog to digital sound outputs are included to in the best possible way make use of, among other things, the Dolby Digital-support.
Unfortunately EPoX 8RDA+ doesn't offer all these sound outputs in it's original version, but it is possible to order a panel for digital sound output (SPDIF) to get a clean digital source to for example a home video receiver.
Since the nForce2 APU only handles the digital sound source, an external DAC-encoder (Digital-to-Analog Converter) is required to get an analog sound from the motherboard. It's up to the motherboard manufacturers themselves to choose DAC-circuit and unfortunately most DAC-circuits that are being used on the nForce2 boards today are clearly inferior to the nForce2 APU which makes a small bottleneck for the analog sound. For most people though the sound quality is more than enough even with these circuits.

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