To date, audio used in personal computers has been based on ISA bus technology. ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) is 16-bit technology invented in the early 1980s by IBM.
Audio chip manufacturers have been the last to adopt PCI because of the cost savings that ISA technology has offered to date. However, as audio chip makers move to offer advanced 3D surround-sound technology like that found in high-end consumer electronics, they must move to the PCI bus technology.
The PCI bus is a 32-bit data path for components such as video chips that help the rest of the computer keep up with the performance of the main processor. PCI has replaced ISA as the main system bus in almost all PCs today because it offers higher performance.
These chips are expected to be used in convergence computer products that also include technologies such as DVD-ROM drives, the Firewire interface for consumer electronics devices, and large screen monitors that will also function as televisions in some cases.
Such technologies could find their way into living rooms in the not-too-distant future. A number of PC companies are working on a "PC Theater" initiative for combining home entertainment and PC products. The initiative is intended to establish "plug-and-play" standards that let audio or video consumer electronics devices and PC-based devices work together.