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A sound chip is an integrated circuit (i.e. "chip") designed to produce sound (see chiptune). It might be doing this through digital, analog or mixed-mode electronics. Sound chips normally contain things like oscillators, envelope controllers, samplers, filters and amplifiers.

Overview

In the early 1970's, there were no sound chips, so the sound usually consisted of either simple digital bleeps generated from the discrete circuitry or explosion sounds generated through electro-mechanical methods.

In the late 1970's, sound boards and sound chips began to be used, leading to the introduction of chiptune music.

In the 1980's, sound chips capable of FM synthesis and PCM sampling were introduced, along with audio playback from the Laserdisc and CD formats.

During the late 1980's to 1990's, sound chips became more sophisticated, with more advanced FM synthesis, dozens of PCM channels, MIDI support, and playback of compressed audio files.

List of sound chips by audio capabilities

This is a list of sound chips, as well as sound cards/boards (for arcade systems and home computers), which often used multiple sound chips.

List of hardware by 2D graphical capabilities
Year Sound chip / card / board System(s) Output PSG channels PSG waveforms Sampling Max sample channels Max sample bit depth Max sample rate (kHz)
1975 Taito 597-907 Logic Board Arcade (Taito Discrete Logic, Midway 8080)[1] Mono 2 Noise, Pulse No 0 0 0
1977 Atari TIA Atari 2600Atari 7800 Mono 2 Noise, Pulse No 0 0 0
Sega Tone Generator Arcade (Sega Vic Dual) Mono 2 Noise, Pulse No
1978 Intel 8244 Magnavox Odyssey² Mono 2 Noise, Pulse No 0 0 0
TI (Texas Instruments) SN76477 Arcade (Taito 8080, Midway 8080) Mono 2 Envelope, Noise, Pulse No
1979 Atari POKEY ArcadeAtari 8-BitAtari 5200, Atari 7800 Mono 4 Noise, Square No 0 0 0
GI (General Instrument) AY-3-8914 Arcade, IntellivisionIntellivision II Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square No
Namco Galaxian Sound Section Arcade (Namco Galaxian)[2] Mono 5 Noise, Pulse, Square No
Sega Oscillator IC Sound Board Arcade (Sega Discrete Logic)[3] Mono 6 Noise, Pulse No
1980 Digitalker MM54104 Arcade (Namco Galaxian, Zaccaria Scorpion) Mono 1 Filter DM (DPCM) 1 4 11
Namco King & Balloon Sound Section Arcade (Namco Galaxian)[4] Mono 6 Filter, Noise, Pulse, Square DM (DPCM)
GI AY-3-8910 ArcadeDECO Cassette System, Colour Genie, Oric 1, Elektor TV Games Computer Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square Virtual PCM 1 4 11
Taito Z80 Board Arcade (Taito Z80)[5] Mono 6 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square Virtual PCM
Konami The End Board Arcade (Konami Scramble)[6] Mono 8 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square Virtual PCM 2
MOS Technology VIC Commodore VIC-1001 / VIC-20 Mono 4 Noise, Square No 0 0 0
Namco WSG Arcade (Namco Pac-Man, Namco Galaga, Namco Pole Position) Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Sawtooth, Square, Triangle No
1981 GI SP0250 Arcade (Sega G80) Mono 0 N/A LPC 1 8 10
Sega USB (Universal Sound Board) Arcade (Sega G80)[7] Mono 3 Noise, Pulse, Square LPC
Harris HC-55516 CVSD Arcade (Irem M27, Williams Midway Y Unit) Mono 0 0 CVSD (ADM) 1 4 24
Irem M27 Board Arcade (Irem M27)[8] Mono 8 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square CVSD (ADM) & Virtual PCM 3
Konami Scramble Logic Board Arcade (Konami Scramble)[9] Mono 8 Envelope, Filter, Noise, Square Virtual PCM 2 4 11
Mockingboard (AY-3-8910) Apple II Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square Virtual PCM 1
Namco Galaga Board Arcade (Namco Galaga)[10] Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Sawtooth, Square, Triangle No 0 0 0
Sega 834-0123 Sound Board Arcade (Sega VCO Object) Stereo 5 Noise, Pulse, Square No
TI SN76489 DCSG Arcade, TI-99/4A, BBC MicroColecoVisionSega SG-1000 Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square Virtual PCM 1 4 8
1982 GI AY-3-8912 ArcadeVectrex, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square No 0 0 0
Namco Audio II Board Arcade (Namco Pole Position)[11] Quad 8 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Sawtooth, Square, Triangle DAC 1
Sega SN76496 Arcade (Sega Z80, Sega System E), Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square PWM & Virtual PCM 1 4 8
Sega Z80 Board Arcade (Sega Z80)[12] Mono 8 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square PWM & Virtual PCM 2
MOS Technology SID Commodore MAX, CBM-II, Commodore 64, Commodore 128 Mono 3 Envelope, Filter, Noise, Pulse, Sawtooth, Triangle Virtual PCM 1 4 4
Oki MSM5205 Arcade (Irem M52, Data East Z80, Taito Unique, Capcom 68000), NEC PC Engine CD-ROM² Mono 0 N/A ADPCM 1 12 32.1
Irem M52-SOUND-C Board Arcade (Irem M52)[13] Mono 6 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Square ADPCM & Virtual PCM 4
1983 Konami KT-2304-2 Sound Board Arcade (Konami 6809)[14] Stereo 20 Envelope, Filter, Noise, Square Virtual PCM 5 4 11
Sega CN2 Audio Board Arcade (Sega Laserdisc) Stereo 0 N/A Laserdisc 2 16 44.1
Yamaha YM2149 ArcadeMSX, Atari ST Mono 4 Envelope, Noise, Pulse, Sine, Square Virtual PCM 1 4 21

Notes

  1. Taito 597-907 Logic Board includes two sound chips:
    • Taito Sound Generator
    • Taito Amplifier
  2. Namco Galaxian sound section includes seven sound chips:
    • Namco Tone Generator
    • Namco LFSR
    • Namco NE555 x5
  3. Sega Oscillator IC Sound Board includes six custom Sega sound chips
  4. King & Balloon sound section includes eight sound chips:
    • Namco Galaxian sound section
      • Namco Tone Generator
      • Namco LFSR
      • Namco NE555 x5
    • Digitalker MM54104
    • Namco DAC
  5. Taito Z80 Board includes three sound chips:
    • Taito DAC
    • General Instrument AY-3-8910
    • Texas Instruments SN76477
  6. Konami's The End board includes:
    • 2x General Instrument AY-3-8910 @ 1.78975 MHz
  7. Sega USB (Universal Sound Board) includes:
    • Sega 8255
    • Sega Melody Generator
    • Sega DAC
    • General Instrument SP0250
  8. Irem M27 arcade system board includes two sound boards:
    • Irem M-27B Audio Board
      • 2x General Instrument AY-8910
    • Irem UE-17B Voice Board
      • Harris HC-55516 CVSD
      • Irem DAC
  9. Konami Scramble Logic Board includes:
    • 2x General Instrument AY-3-8910 @ 1.78975 MHz
    • 6x Konami RC @ 1.78975 MHz
  10. Namco Galaga board includes four sound chips:
    • Namco WSG @ 3.1 MHz
    • Namco 50xx Sound Sequencer @ 1.6 MHz
    • Namco 52xx Audio Processor @ 1.6 MHz
    • Namco 54xx Sounds @ 1.6 MHz
  11. Namco Audio II board includes four sound chips:
    • Namco WSG @ 48 kHz
    • Namco 52xx Audio Processor @ 1.6 MHz
    • Namco 54xx Sounds @ 1.6 MHz
    • Namco DAC
  12. Sega Z80 board includes two sound chips:
    • Sega SN76496 @ 4 MHz
    • Sega SN76496 @ 2 MHz
  13. Irem M52-SOUND-C board includes four sound chips:
    • 2x Oki MSM5205 @ 384 kHz each
    • 2x General Instrument AY-3-8910 @ 895 kHz each
  14. Konami KT-2304-2 Sound Board includes:
    • 5x General Instrument AY-3-8910 @ 1.789772 MHz
    • 6x Konami RC @ 1.789772 MHz

See also

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