Analog Devices announces World's First 32-bit HDCD Chip

Recently, Analog Devices announced the worldÆs first High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) decoder chip with 32-bit internal precision. The ADSP-21061 SHARC programmable digital signal processor will enable HDCD decoding to be incorporated into a wide variety of consumer audio and home-theater products, according to an AD press release dated March 26. The SHARC DSP can perform up to 150 million operations per second, and includes one megabit of onboard memory, six DMA channels, and two serial ports. The highly integrated decoder is claimed to perform HDCD decoding without external memory.

32 bits is the next resolution barrier. Typical CD playback offers 18 bits of resolution, and 24-bit audio is just beginning to establish itself in high-end circles. Analog Devices' statement called 32-bit audio "The emerging data width standard for both pro-audio applications and high-end consumer audio . . . required for the precision of digital audio, the performance of real-time post-processing, and to reveal the effects, enhancements, and content of composers and software developers using 32-bit synthesizers and processors. To take full advantage of sophisticated processes such as HDCD, decoders must be 32-bit."

HDCD, a process patented by Berkeley, CA-based Pacific Microsonics, is enjoying increasing popularity among recording professionals. "Recording artists and producers ask me to use HDCD because it produces the best-sounding CDs when played on any CD player," said Denny Purcell, president of Georgetown Masters. "Now, with the new SHARC DSP, more consumers than ever will be able to enjoy the enhanced sound quality of decoded HDCD recordings in their playback systems." Georgetown Masters used HDCD on Garth BrooksÆ hugely popular album Sevens.

Analog Devices' Mike Haider, general manager of the Software and Systems Technology Division, said, "The HDCD decoder enables the more than 40 million HDCD-encoded CDs already in consumers' hands to deliver the performance enhancements of this technology with the emerging 32-bit systems." Haider added that original equipment manufacturers can "future-proof" their products for higher resolution by including the SHARC DSP.

The new decoder is said to be multifunction-capable, supporting sampling rates of 32, 44.1, and 48kHz. In addition to HDCD, it will decode all existing multichannel formats, including Dolby Digital and Pro Logic, MPEG, THX, and DTS.