My family has several machines that I built myself that have cheaper integrated mainboards, aka the graphics and sounds are built on the board. If you're serious about gaming or any complex work these boards are a poor choice, especially if you want to be able to run the latest Microsoft ram-guzzling, graphics-card-frying, wallet-burning bug-fest, but for my mum who uses her machine with Xubuntu Linux for email and light web browsing they easily provide enough power, and you sure can't argue with the price.

One thing I always wondered though was: what is AC'97? I knew it was the on board sound, but what did it actually stand for? As usual the almighty Wikipedia has the answer:

AC’97 (short for Audio Codec ’97) is Intel Corporation’s Audio “Codec” standard developed by the Intel Architecture Labs in 1997, and used mainly in motherboards (also known as ‘on-board’ or ‘integrated’), modems, and sound cards.

Audio components integrated into Intel chipsets consists of 2 components – an AC’97 digital controller, which is built into the I/O Controller Hub (ICH) of the chipset, and an AC’97 codec, which is the analog component of the architecture. AC’97 defines a high-quality, 16- or 20-bit audio architecture for the PC that is used in the majority of today’s desktop platforms. AC’97 supports 96 kHz in 20-bit stereo resolution and 48 kHz in 20-bit stereo for multichannel recording and playback.

There you have it. Don't say you never learn anything from this blog. Unless you knew that AC'97 stuff already… if so just pretend to look surprised.

Wikipedia: Intel AC'97

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