Realtek launches eight-channel AC’97 audio codec

Taiwan-based IC designer Realtek Semiconductor today announced the launch of the ALC850, claiming it to be the world’s first eight-channel AC’97 Rev 2.3 audio codec.

Fully complying with the new AC’97 Rev 2.3 specification, the ALC850 provides a jack-sensing function (surround, center/LFE, front-mic, surround back), a PCBEEP generator, and interrupt capability, the company said. In addition, the ALC850 is embedded with Realtek’s proprietary UAJ (Universal Audio Jack) technology, providing three universal jacks (line-out, mic-in, line-in), giving users plug and play convenience. The ALC850 also supports S/PDIF input and output, allowing digital connections with DVD systems or other audio/video multimedia. It is packaged in a 48-pin LQFP.

The eight-channel audio codec will enable higher-level audio applications and lead the PC industry into next-generation sound quality. The company launched its six-channel AC’97 audio codec last year.

“This is an irresistible trend,” said Davis Kung, Realtek’s audio product manager, in a statement. “The world’s leading audio format providers – Dolby Laboratories (Dolby) and Digital Theatre Systems (DTS) – are promoting 7.1-channel audio systems and it is forecast that this application and market will be mainstream in early 2004. The Realtek eight-channel ALC850 makes it possible for PC users to enjoy advanced 7.1-channel super surround sound audio entertainment.”

Samples of the new chip are available now and mass production is scheduled for October. A number of Taiwan’s motherboard manufacturers will showcase their products equipped with the Realtek ALC850 at Computex 2003, which will be held from September 22-26.