Ubuntu Desires Lower Audio Latency For Gaming
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 1 November 2012 at 02:37 PM EDT. 87 Comments
At the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Copenhagen today, developers discussed audio latency for gaming on the premise that "audio latency is relatively high on Linux and we need to be competitive with other platforms."

Lowering the audio latency is desired since Ubuntu is trying to make a big push as a gaming platform with Valve and other game studios beginning to target the Linux distribution as a supported platform. They view a 16ms audio latency as their target, which would be equal to one 60Hz frame for gaming. Numbers talked about earlier this week put the audio latency average as about 25ms when going through PulseAudio or 5ms if using raw ALSA.

Aside from lowering the audio latency, also viewed as important is ensuring syncing audio and video. As far as how they plan to improve audio for Ubuntu and Linux in general, that really wasn't anything specific discussed at length -- no plans were drawn to overhaul PulseAudio, dropping PulseAudio, or any other fundamental changes to the Ubuntu desktop. This is similar to their desire to have better Linux OpenGL drivers but not with any real commitment for major changes upstream but are looking to more or less offload the work to the community.

In the end what the session came down to was make sure open-source apps are properly syncing audio/video and investigate ways to add latency tests to their game measurement tests, working hda-jack-retest into the Ubuntu sound settings, and basically just work on more ways to test audio latency. (I certainly would welcome more audio latency tests too for automated benchmarking through the Phoronix Test Suite as an important Linux desktop measurement.)

Referenced during the discussion were the Wine audio latency tests and fixing a PulseAudio loopback delay.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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