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The secret of MSI K8N Diamond

And again we took a look at another NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI based motherboard. But such cool feature as SLI is now pushed aside, because K8N Diamond from Micro-Star International might shatter some desktop audio market stereotypes.

Our colleagues from t-break published these interesting photos of this board. At that the photographer was impressed not by a couple of PCI Express x16, but a large chip in the bottom left corner:

Is it really "CREATIVE"? Let´s take a closer look:

Yes, it is. The chip is marked CREATIVE CA0106-DAT. It´s the same DSP chip as those used in Creative Audigy LS and Live! 24bit soundcards. To the left of CA0106-DAT you can see Wolfson WM8775 ADC, further to the left there´s Cirrus Logic sign a DAC, most likely. Perhaps, MSI didn´t try to invent a wheel again, but kept to the reference design of Audigy LS/Live! 24bit. Still, higher-quality electrolytic capacitor might improve the sound path a bit.

We asked ourselves if it´s not another Photoshop joke. After visiting the official website of MSI we found photos and specs of K8N Diamond.

On the same place onboard you can see a large chip with a big sticker on it. Looking into the specs we found what we needed:

Well, there´s a strange trend outlining: Creative starts shipping its DSP chips to third parties (something unheard of before). In particular, to motherboard makers that add them to the latest NVIDIA solutions. And Californian company seems to cease its SoundStorm initiative by not implementing additional hardware audio features and thus making motherboard manufacturers use chips from Creative. Nevertheless, there´s a lot of rumours in the Web circulating around improved discrete SoundStorm 2 that might become a base for standalone soundcards. It´s hard to tell if these will compete with Creative´s solutions, but considering the latest trend (Creative searching for new income sources) and NVIDIA´s huge potential...

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