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Topic: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    Here's a promising new development - BionicFX has announced Audio Video EXchange (AVEX), a technology that uses graphics processors to perform real-time convolution (sampled reverb).

    Here's the Press Release:

    BionicFX Announces Audio Processing on NVIDIA GPU - Revolutionary Programming and Innovation uses GPU as Powerful Audio Effect Processor

    Cambridge, MA, September 2, 2004: BionicFX announces a revolutionary technology for music production that turns NVIDIA video cards into audio effects processors. Audio Video Exchange (AVEX) converts digital audio into graphics data, and then performs effect calculations using the 3D architecture of the GPU. The latest video cards from NVIDIA are capable of more than 40 gigaflops of processing power compared to less than 6 gigaflops on Intel and AMD CPUs. AVEX represents a major technological achievement that allows music hobbyists and professional artists to run studio quality audio effects at high sample rates on their desktop computer.

    BionicReverb, the first effect to use AVEX, will debut at Winter NAMM Conference in January 2005. BionicReverb is an impulse response reverberation effect that runs as a plugin inside VST compatible multi-track recording software. The audio effect is generated by combining an impulse response file with digital audio. Impulse response files are created by firing a starter pistol inside a location, such as Carnegie Hall, and recording the echoing sound waves. Combining the two files through mathematical convolution is a CPU intensive process that is reduced by moving expensive calculations onto the GPU. Amateur and professional guitarists, singers, pianists, and other musicians will be able to create performances in their home or studio that sound exactly like they were recorded in famous locations around the world.

    AVEX works by transforming audio streams into the structure and colors of graphics data. The graphics data is processed on the video card by pixel or fragment shaders that run audio effect algorithms, which read and write to textures in video memory. The final calculations are retrieved from off-screen buffers and decoded into audio. For more information, visit www.bionicfx.com
    By having all that processing power available to do convolution, and thereby take the workload off the processor, makes perfect sense. It's surprising no one has done this before. I think this will have enormous implications for the future of sampled reverb.

    Gary Garritan

  2. #2

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    WOW! what a great idea, but who is going to sample all the great rooms like Altiverb has? hmmmmm?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    We can put FX back together better than it was before! Stronger! Faster!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Kauai, Hawaii, USA

    Lightbulb Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    Interesting. However, as the background story relates, the overall process (shipping sound as "video", processing it, returning it as "video" and translating back to audio) will still be limited by the PCI bus architecture (or AGP) and limitations therein. It is intriguing, thought, that some bunch of Boston-based crazies has thought "co-opt" (rather than invent from scratch).

    How what could we do with those un-used cycles in your Ethernet card?


  5. #5

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    By having all that processing power available to do convolution, and thereby take the workload off the processor, makes perfect sense. It's surprising no one has done this before.
    Well, technically it has been done before. We've had specialized audio DSP cards for a while now, such as TC Powercore and the like, to take a load off of the CPU. But what's cool is that video cards cost so much less than these DSP cards. Plus, your computer can now act as a 3D workstation, audio workstation, and gaming machine!

    This is really neat, and I hope they keep developing it. It's amazing that video GPUs have advanced to the point of being able to do this, and still maintain their relatively low cost. Guess we have the gaming market to thank for that.

  6. #6

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    OK, dumb guy chiming in!

    Are you guys speaking English?

    Really, I wish I understood more about what you are saying. I fancy myself to be a diversly educated man (although I can't spell!), but my brain must have went for a walk with Styxx's!

    For more information, check out www.jonathoncox.com/intro.html

    "The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." - Igor Stravinsky

  7. #7

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    Johnny, don't feel stupid. It's all technical mumbo jumbo to me too. It all bowls down to the ability to route audio processing signals through an Nvidia graphics card (the same one many people use for their every day video playback on a computer) by converting the signals into data which the graphics card understands, which takes some of the burden off the CPU. This is nice since graphics cards are capable of doing more calculations faster than a CPU.

  8. #8

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    In case anyone is interested, a guy at KVRaudio has made some tempts on this field, partially sucesfully i believe. He is running a bunch of plugins using the GPU power, i tested them in my machine, and they work. Very eary stage, but you can read about it here:

    Marcelo Colina

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards


    Thanks for letting us know about this. We had meetings and involved discussions with BionixFX for our Real Spaces. But they have since disappeared.

    Harnassing the power of graphic cards makes a great deal of sense for convolution and I hope this new project meets with success.

    Gary Garritan

  10. #10

    Re: Real-Time Convolution using Graphics Cards

    So to take advantage of this, first you have to buy the particular VST effect. Then you have to make sure that you have a computer with a particular graphics card bus. Then you have to purchase a particular model of graphics card to go with the VST effect. This could be extremely confusing to the average musician consumer. It could be very disappointing if there are a dozen graphics-card enabled VST effects on the market, but each one has particular requirements as to the specific make, model and rev of graphics card that it will run on, and they are not interchangeable. There needs to be some serious standardization and testing done if this little niche in the market is ever going to take off.
    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

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