Now that the rush of tradeshows is over, I had the opportunity to talk with one of iXsystems’ FreeBSD developers, Alexander Motin. Alexander is located in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine and has a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. We corresponded through email, and this is what I gathered from his responses.
Alexander started his first FreeBSD project in 2003 on the improvement and maintenance of the “Multilink PPP Daemon for FreeBSD” (MPD), and became a FreeBSD committer in April of 2007. Alexander continues to maintain MPD to this day. Over the course of the past few years, he has expanded his repertoire to include HDA sound drivers, SD/MMC card readers, ATA/SATA, GEOM, CAM, and event timers subsystems. His most recent projects include the GEOM Multipath rewrite, improving the HDA sound driver, and improving the SCSI Direct Access driver.
In our discussion, Alexander went into a lot more detail about the HDA sound drivers. HDMI audio support is one of the new features he added. Users can run discrete 5.1/7.1 LPCM for maximum audio quality and flexibility from locally-generated or obscure sources. The resource-demanding DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD formats can now be transferred without decompression via HDMI connection. Alexander has successfully tested these features with two generations of NVIDIA cards (GT210 and GT520). Others are testing and resolving issues with Intel video cards. He is also optimistic about having sound over AMD when supported drivers are available in the future.
For FreeBSD users, sound quality from multichannel sources is preserved and audio can be played back in original quality. Alexander has compared it to upgrading from DVD to full HD video.
He’s been working diligently to gather more information, especially from HDA CODECS, in order to improve the average users' experience. For example, he configured the volume control to be more precise and predictable. Depending on which mixer API is used, the driver can display decibel level, and allows users to set mixer defaults. There are improvements with outside connection device detection, so users can plug in a microphone straight out of the box and go. Alexander admits that there is a delicate balance in simplifying controls and configurations for beginners, and yet still retaining functional options for advanced users.
Many thanks to Alexander Motin for his insights. Stay tuned for our next Developer's Corner blog post!