Oxford Semiconductor will announce a dedicated FireWire audio controller at Macworld Expo 2004, the company announced today.

The new Integrated Circuit (IC) will be launched and demonstrated at the show. It is compatible with FireWire400 and FireWire 800 connections and offers eight digital audio output channels.

The product (the OXFW970) can be used to build high-quality surround-sound systems for Macs and PCs. It uses the bandwidth and quality-of-service attributes of FireWire to overcome the limitations of USB multi-channel audio solutions and removes the need for PCI-based soundcards.

The company says its FireWire audio controller can receive and process 32-bit audio data sampled at up to 48kHz at a streaming speed of up to 100MB/sec. FireWire's power-carrying capability also means that the speaker configuration does not require the use of external power supplies.