|Design firm Advanced Micro Devices|
Type audio acceleration
|Introduced October 2013|
TrueAudio is the name given to AMD's ASIC intended to serve as dedicated co-processor for the calculations of computationally expensive advanced audio effects, like e.g. convolution reverberation effects and 3D audio effects. TrueAudio is integrated into some of the AMD GPUs and APUs available since 2013.
TrueAudio is a DSP for audio based on Cadence Tensilica HiFi EP DSP with Tensilica Xtensa SP float support.
AMD claimed that a few simple audio effects can use up to 14% of the CPU. Audiokinetic claimed that it is up to 10%. Independent software vendors (ISV), such as game developers, can use what is called a Wwise audio plugin to offload such computations to the TrueAudio DSPs. The on-die TrueAudio DSPs provide a better "silicon area to computing power" ratio and "power consumption to computing power" ratio for audio processing than the CPU, effectively making it an audio acceleration unit. Any additional benefits of the TrueAudio DSPs, such as "better effects", have been severely criticized.
The possibility to include multiple TrueAudio DSPs on a die speak to the expected acceleration benefits. And in case latency is important, the on-die TrueAudio DSPs should have a much lower latency than a discrete sound card on the PCI bus. Given that VR head-mounted displays, such as the Oculus Rift, do require more computing power due to the necessity to deliver a frame rate of at least 75 FPS and the probable utilization of high display resolutions in the future, offloading any suitable calculations to highly specialized SIP blocks or chips makes sense.
It may be noteworthy that Unified Video Decoder is another ASIC by AMD which is also based on Tensilica's Xtensa, and that Tensilica is member of the HSA Foundation.
In 18 March 2014, AnandTech evaluated AMD TrueAudio using the Thief video game.
A new version of TrueAudio, TrueAudio Next, was released with the AMD Radeon 400 series GPUs. TrueAudio Next utilizes the GPU to simulate audio physics. The move from a dedicated DSP to GPGPU breaks compatibility with the previous TrueAudio implementation. The TrueAudio Next SDK was released as open source through AMD's GPUOpen suite in August 2016. It also clarified that TrueAudio Next uses the GPU's ray-casting technology to do the audio computation, and can also reserve GCN compute units for lower latency.
AMD TrueAudio enables dedicated digital signal processing (DSP). Such dedicated audio processing horsepower is specifically for generating immersive soundscapes and saves CPU cycles that can be used for other game processing tasks such as AI and Physics.
The video games Murdered: Soul Suspect, Star Citizen, Thief and Lichdom: Battlemage (uses CryEngine) can be configured to use AMD TrueAudio if present.
There is an audio plug-in for Audiokinetic's Wwise (Wave Works Interactive Sound Engine) to off-load computation to the TrueAudio DSP(s). Wwise is available for Linux, OS X, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One et al.
GenAudio's AstoundSound, a highly optimized collection of advanced DSP C/C++ software available as a library or a plugin for augmenting real-time audio engines on Linux, OS X, Windows as well as Android and iOS, can make use of AMD TrueAudio. AstoundSound is also wrapped for several plug-in formats, such as RTAS and Wwise and has been integrated into several DSP chips. AstoundSound is described as fully programmable audio engine. As of July 2014 there are no news regarding products supporting TrueAudio and LV2.
AMD TrueAudio is found on-die of select AMD graphics cards and APUs. A die can house multiple AMD TrueAudio DSP cores, each having 32KiB instruction and data caches and 8KiB of scratchpad memory for local operation.
AMD TrueAudio SIP blocks are found on the dies of some GPUs of the AMD Radeon Rx 200 Series; namely the Radeon R7 260, Radeon R7 260X, Radeon R9 285, Radeon R9 290, Radeon R9 290X and the Radeon R9 295X2, and in Kaveri and Carrizo-based APUs. TrueAudio is also supported by the PlayStation 4 hardware.
Some I²S solution is being used.