Over the years, Creative has expanded its business into media players, headphones and webcams but is perhaps best regarded for its Sound Blaster computer audio products. The X-Fi audio processing chip was added to its PCI cards in 2005 and now the company has announced the new Sound Core3D multi-core sound and voice processor. The low-power, high performance chip will come in a HD audio configuration for computer products and an embedded format for consumer electronics.

Creative says that the Sound Core3D chip will be its first audio processor to feature four Quartet digital signal processor cores and a HD audio codec on a single, low-power chip. The 56-pin Quad Flat Package technology features audiophile-pleasing 6-channel, 24-bit, 102dB digital-to-analog converters and 4-channel, 24-bit, 101dB analog-to-digital converters, S/PDIF inputs and outputs (as well as general purpose inputs and outputs), an integrated headphone amplifier-out, and a digital microphone interface.

Now familiar Creative technologies like CrystalVoice (with acoustic noise cancellation, focused noise suppression, smart volume, EQ and FX) and THX TruStudio Pro (which includes low and high end frequency enhancement, surround sound, voice enhancement) are joined by toolbox additions like a 10-band graphic equalizer, speaker calibration, reverb and pitch shifter.

On the face of it, of course, the new Sound Core3D chipset looks quite similar to its X-Fi ancestor but "features a larger instruction set and more memory, so it can handle functions such as Dolby Digital decoding in addition to processing the Creative audio algorithms," the company's Phil O'Shaughnessy told Gizmag. "It also is more energy efficient, so it can drive USB-powered devices such as our upcoming Sound Blaster Recon3D. This also makes the Sound Core3D an ideal audio processor for stand-alone consumer electronics devices."

At the time of writing, there's no indication of when the first consumer products sporting the Sound Core3D processor will reach the marketplace but Creative has confirmed that Gigabyte is already onboard so we may not have too long to wait.