VideoLogic Enters PC Audio Market with PCI-Based SonicStorm

VideoLogic, the international PC multimedia and 3D graphics company, is today announcing its entry into the emerging and rapidly expanding PCI audio market, with the launch of SonicStorm. Based on the Maestro-1TM audio signal processor from ESS Technology Inc® - the world's largest PC audio semiconductor supplier, SonicStorm is the first audio product to be designed and launched by VideoLogic.

SonicStorm is a standalone audio accelerator for the home PC and PC gamer markets. Based on the recently announced Maestro-1, SonicStorm combines the very latest in PCI-based audio acceleration for DirectSound and DirectSound3D, with true hi-fi quality using an AC97 codec, 64 channel audio stream capability and a 64 voice MIDI wavetable synthesizer.

"The PC audio industry will transition over the next 18 months from ISA-based audio to powerful PCI-based accelerators," said Kevin Dale, director of sales and marketing for VideoLogic. "However, while the industry is in transition to PCI audio, it is important that we protect our customers' existing investments in DOS and SoundBlaster games. The SonicStorm offers the very latest in PCI audio acceleration, whilst still providing full DOS and SoundBlaster support, ensuring that existing games and applications can still be enjoyed."Product Highlights

As a PCI-based audio accelerator, SonicStorm is capable of handling multiple streams of high quality audio, for improved sound quality and realism. Using PCI, SonicStorm makes significantly lower demands on the CPU than ISA-based solutions and has an audio bandwidth 25 times faster than ISA. As a result, games running under PCI audio are more responsive and play at higher frame rates than ISA-based sound.

SonicStorm exceeds the Microsoft PC97/98 specification and supports DirectSound and DirectSound3D (Direct X 5.0) under Windows 95 for the emerging set of audio enhanced games. The card has full support for the SoundBlaster and DOS standards, running all DOS based games without the need for an additional ISA sound card.

SonicStorm also incorporates an AC97 codec for true hi-fi quality sound, supports full duplex, 44KHz sampling for CD quality recording, and playback of material sampled at up to 48KHz.

Using the Maestro-1 audio signal processor from ESS Technology, the SonicStorm has a 64 channel audio steam processor, a 64 voice General MIDI wavetable synthesizer and 2 speaker 3D sound virtualisation. A 2Mb Wavetable sample file is stored in system memory and samples are transferred over the PCI bus, removing both complexity and cost from the card itself.

For the latest crop of Windows 95 3D accelerated games, SonicStorm delivers 3D positional sound virtualisation with Qsound. Through Qsound, sounds can be accurately positioned at any point in space, in x,y and z directions, around the listener. In addition, SonicStorm has a dedicated accelerated gameport under Windows 95 for improved and more responsive joystick performance.

Pricing, Availability and Software Bundle

The SonicStorm will be available in November from VideoLogic's existing network of computer distributors, resellers and retailers. This audio card comes bundled with 3 award winning audio productivity applications - Midisoft Studio 4.0 Lite, AudioRack and MixMan's 3-Mix, trial versions of leading internet phone software, including CuSeeMe Enhanced, Vocaltek, InternetPhone, VDOPhone and a full version of NetMeeting 2.0 from Microsoft, as well as £100 worth of NewSoft (formerly known as Prolab) multimedia software.

Midisoft Studio 4.0 Lite is a MIDI recording studio application that allows the user to compose and playback audio tracks using up to 64 MIDI channels, with realtime onscreen musical notation. AudioRack is a CD/MIDI/DAT player plus mixer with realistic hi-fi rack style user interface and MixMan's 3-Mix is a mixing desk application that allows the user to remix popular digital music tracks. Singles and albums ported to MixMan are available to download from the MixMan web site - and are also available from computer and music retailers.

SonicStorm has driver support for Windows 95, Direct X and Windows NT. The complete SonicStorm bundle, including card, drivers and audio applications has an RRP of £59.00, and an expected street price of £49.00.

ESS Technology Inc - Advanced Audio Performance and Quality

The Maestro-1 from ESS Technology is based on the dual-engine, 64-channel, pipelined Wave Processor and a programmable Audio Signal Processor to provide simultaneous support for multiple audio streams of different sample rates. The architecture will enable the implementation of complex, 3D positional gaming sound effects while also supporting voice communications over the Internet.

ESS Technology's architecture supports 64 independently programmable Wave Processor channels and provides for DirectSound® hardware acceleration with digital mixing of up to 32 Wave Streams. The architecture will convert all audio streams from any frequency to 48 kHz during playback.

Each of the 64 General MIDI channels can be assigned its own parameters to control panning, tremolo, vibrato, and tone-filtering. The channels also support independently programmable special effects such as reverb, chorus, flange, echo, and 3D spatial enhancements to create positional special effects.

All of ESS Technology's PCI audio solutions utilise the high bandwidth PCI bus and WaveCacheTM technology to store MIDI sound samples in a PC's main memory. The downloadable sound samples remove the additional on card memory requirements, while giving software developers control over how their application will sound.

ESS Technology, Inc.

ESS Technology, Inc. is a leading supplier of PC audio and digital video semiconductor solutions for the PC and consumer markets. ESS designs, develops, and markets highly integrated mixed signal semiconductor and software solutions for multimedia applications. ESS, headquartered in Fremont, California, has sales and technical support offices in Austin and Houston, Texas; Irvine, California; Beijing and Shenzhen, China; Tokyo, Japan; Taipei, Taiwan; and Hong Kong. ESS Technology is listed on the Nasdaq Market System under the symbol ESST. World Wide Web site: