A company called
TC Works is planning a new “PowerCore” DSP (Digital Signal Processing) card that actually has a Power PC processor in it and promises 2800 MHz of DSP power. The DSP card, which should pique the interest of musicians, employs five discrete processors: one PowerPC and four Motorola 56K DSPs for performance and flexibility providing up to 24/96 audio and double-precision processing.
“This DSP card is different from a ‘host’ based system in that it uses no CPU power from the computer,” Christopher A. Kerian, Help Desk Analyst at Lockheed Martin EIS, Enterprise Service, told MacCentral. “A Digidesign card such as the Audiomedia 3 or Digi001 uses the processing power of the computer to do the mixing and effects. This card uses the PPC processor that is on it to do this, freeing up your computer to do other things.”
The TC PowerCore supplies 400 DSP million instructions per second (MIPS) of sheer power, according to TC Works. One DSP instruction, or “cycle,” is capable of loading two data items, fetching the next processor instruction, and performing a combined multiplication and addition (multiply-add) simultaneously.
A current G4 processor, however, requires at least 4-7 cycles to perform this operation in a best-case scenario, according to TC Works. And if the data isn’t in the computer’s cache, the factor is up to 100 times worse, the company claims. What’s more, the computer’s theoretical power is reduced by the relatively slow memory used, TC Works adds.
Why should you care? TC Works says the PowerCore’s signal processing power “transforms all VST-compatible recording environments into professional high performance audio workstations, freeing up precious CPU performance resources.” With it, you’ll purportedly be able to run eight studio-quality TC Mega Reverb or other Hi-End TC PowerCore plug-ins simultaneously, without reducing your track count or using up all of the computer’s available CPU horsepower. The PowerCore integrates with VST-compatible software like Cubase, Spark, or Logic, and any sound system supported by the software. No proprietary add-on software is required to access the board’s audio processing power.
According to TC Works, the PowerCore gives you “world class” Reverb, Modulation FX and EQ right out of the box. The company’s FX (special effects) package is bundled with the card. Now TC Mega Reverb, TC Chorus/Delay and TC EQSat Plug-ins are accessible from inside your favorite VST-compatible recording application — but running on the card, not your CPU, according to TC Works. The company claims the PowerCore has so much processing power that one complete set of TC Tools Plug-ins (MegaReverb, Chorus/Delay and EQ) only requires one DSP to run, leaving three more DSPs available for other Hi-End FX.
And with the TC PowerCore, you don’t give up any of your VST features, according to TC Works. You just add the power of a DSP-based system to your native environment. You can use VST and PowerCore plug-ins at the same time, even in the same signal path. The card can also run more than just the TC Tools/96 plug-ins you get in the package. The other TC works high-end plug-ins will run on the card and are available as options
System requirements are a G3 or G4 Power Mac with PCI slots, 128MB of RAM, Mac OS 9, VST-compatible recording software, and an ASIO compatible sound system. The TC PowerCore is slated for delivery next month. No price has been announced.