A public service message for all you PPU owners out there!
For those of you dual-wielding a physx card with a creative labs sound card, you may notice some audio glitches going on while playing a few physx intensive games. Glitches like pops, digital hisses and scratches, static, crackles, and all sorts of noisy, corrupted jumbo!
Don't panic, as situations like this can be expected due to slow communication between your PhysX card relaying info back through the GFX card while your sound card tries to keep everything on cue. Creative Labs explains what happens in such situations, "We have found that when this distortion occurs, the Sound Blaster X-Fi audio transport encounters severe cache/FIFO underflows and crackles are heard. This occurs if the audio card's accesses to host memory are denied for long periods of time, more than what the audio chip can gracefully handle. Typically this happens during intense graphics activity such as playing games/movie etc."
Well the same concept is applied to PhysX intensive activities as well. I've even tested this theory with one computer, a physx card and 2 different Creative Labs X-Fi cards. When playing a PhysX intensive game (in this case, Cellfactor Revolution) with motherboard audio, no audio problems were reported, all the sound were on que.
But now install the X-Fi Xtreme Gamer sound card and play the same game, one will have an incredibly annoying experience with the loud shrieks and crackles on occasion (though the sound quality is reportedly better multi-channel sound ques). Would not suggest using headphones! Now one would figure that he owns a faulty sound card, so replace the X-Fi Xtreme Gamer card with the X-Fi Fatal1ty Edition sound card with 64mb X-Ram, and what do you get? The same result!
There are not a lot of solutions to this problem, other than lose the sound card or lose the PhysX card. And even though you can't get rid of the occasional crackle during a PhysX game, you can decrease them tremendously. One method would be to drop the PhysX settings in your game (if applicable), less stuff flying around means less static.
For those of you with PPUs, these sound cards and Cellfactor Revolution, I would HIGHLY recommend you avoid updating Cellfactor with the latest patch and stick with 1.0, as updated versions of Cellfactor Revolution bathe in audio glitches with Creative Labs cards. Geforce PhysX users reportedly don't have this problem as often, unless they house a SLI'ed system.
Besides that, there's not much more to do. This problem is really more of an occasional annoyance than a problem, but if your sound is hissing and scratching all the time, then it's most likely something wrong with your sound card. And also keep in mind that some games are more tolerant than others, I am happy to report that I haven't experienced any crackles or static in such games like Switchball or Infernal (though Infernal was created to support PhysX cards and Sound Blaster audio cards). And games I've noticed that are prone for these kinds of audio hiccups are, Batman: Arkham Assylum, GRAW2, Cellfactor.
So, in all, yes it is possible for your Ageia PhysX card and your X-Fi Sound card to co-exist, but if you start hearing things that don't belong, don't freak out as it's more of an annoyance than anything else!