Aureal Semiconducter was a company known for the Vortex chipsets that were released with sound cards in the late 1990s. The Vortex was famous for its advanced 3D sound reproduction through headphones and desktop speakers in games. In addition to supporting DirectSound3D and EAX like its main competitor (Sound Blaster Live!), it also featured its own proprietary 3D audio technology, called A3D. A3D was generally considered to be superior at its time, but support from games was not as common compared to Creative's EAX. Vortex cards also support Sound Blaster emulation in DOS. Aureal went bankrupt in 2000.
Initially, A3D technology was implemented with an Analog Devices DSP. This design was sold on products such as the Diamond Monster Sound M80 and MX200. These cards supported A3D 1.x.
Vortex 1 / AU8820
Aureal's first ASIC became very popular with sound card manufacturers and was sold in many OEM PCs. These cards produce good audio quality, and include hardware MIDI, DOS support (SBPro), DirectSound and DirectSound3D support, and support A3D 1.x. They have only 8 hardware streams though so the system CPU may need to process some streams.
Vortex 2 / AU8830
This was the first and only hardware designed to process A3D 2.0. It has features similar to Vortex 1 but has much more powerful 3D audio processing.
- Driver rev 2041 is perhaps the most functional. 2048 has bugs, including reversed-channel audio streams in some games.
- If you run higher than DirectX 7.0a, drivers beyond rev 2017 may cause Windows to lock up if you quit a game and try to play it again. It causes some kind of exception that crashes the OS. Reference driver 2015 and Diamond MX300 driver 1.02 (2017) seem to work fine with later DirectX versions.
- There are no drivers for Windows 2000 or XP that are fully functional. There are sound problems and missing features.
Vortex Advantage / AU8810
This card was a later entry that is essentially an enhanced Vortex 1. They added a hardware equalizer.